KIGALI - The editor of the controversial weekly tabloid Agnes Nkusi Uwimana and her co-writer Saidath Mukakibibi, yesterday were arraigned in Nyarugenge Intermediate Court to answer charges of sedition.
Uwimana and Mukakibibi were charged with publishing material defamatory to the person of the president, inciting public disorder, ethnic “divisionism” as well promoting the genocide ideology.
The duo pleaded not guilty to all the charges and the bail hearing is set for today.
Prosecutor Jean Baptiste Kayitare read out fourteen reasons why the two are suspected to have committed serious crimes through their publications in the controversial tabloid which were aimed at inciting public disorder among other things.
According to the Prosecutor, Uwimana who was arrested on Friday, July 9 and her co-writer Mukakibibi arrested last week deliberately published material in issue no.21, 23, 28 and 29 of Umurabyo newspaper aimed at inciting violence in public, discrimination, sectarianism and Genocide denial.
The two also facing charges of abusing the person of the President by printing his photo on a background of Nazi Swastika symbols portraying him as “Hitler”. Insulting the person of the president is a crime punishable by law.
According to the prosecution spokesperson, “Uwimana will face charges of inciting violence in public, discrimination, sectarianism and Genocide denial”.
On her part she argued that the problem is with the newspaper and not her person but prosecution argues that the publications ran under her name which makes her responsible.
Prosecution says that Uwimana published articles which suggested that there are differences in the country’s armed forces as well as several other articles which exhibit the genocide ideology, sectarianism and divisions based on ethnicity.
In the articles, the prosecution argues, Uwimana attempted to pit Rwandans against each other and also threatened the security of the state.
The duo also published baseless rumours which also threatened state security. It was revealed that at one time, the two alleged that Major General Fred Ibingira was behind the grenade attacks in the country.
It is the second time Uwimana faces similar charges, and according to the penal code , she could be jailed for 15 years in jail for recidivism if found guilty.
In 2007, Uwimana had been sentenced to two years in jail over related charges, and served half of the sentence.
She told court that she was charged for the same crimes and she shouldn’t be charged a second time.
Her arrest followed a series of warnings from the Media High Council. The MHC was on the verge of making a final decision on Uwimana’s publications when the Police arrested her.
Prosecution asserts that through their publication, the writers had intentions of inciting violence in the public through malicious propaganda, an act punishable by article 166 of the penal code.
The legal representative of the duo, Jean Vianney Nduwamungu, pleaded for bail for the two and argued that they will not escape as prosecution argues and that there is nothing more to investigate since the publications are there.
The bail ruling is set for today.