KARONGI - Karongi Intermediate Court, Thursday, acquitted Jean Baptiste Hakizimana, the former vice Mayor of Karongi District, who had been on trial for embezzling government funds.
Hakizimana, whose trial had dragged on for over a year ,was acquitted alongside his co-accused, Jean Bosco Bagaragaza, amid ecstatic applause from cheering relatives and friends who had turned up for the ruling.
Prosecution had alleged that Hakizimana unlawfully obtained Rw100, 000 from the former Western Province Governor, Penelope Kantarama, and presented a forged receipt to justify the expenditure of the money which was meant to repair the governor’s residence.
Prosecution had sought 15-years and 7-years in jail for Hakizimana and Bagaragaza respectively. However, presiding Judge Adolph Udahemuka, ruled that the duo was not guilty.
“Court has found that Rwf100, 000 was indeed given to the former vice Mayor but this caused no loss to government and he never used it for personal gains. He is therefore not guilty of any crime,” Udahemuka ruled, throwing the fully packed court room into prolonged excitement.
He stressed that since no other money was accounted on the same expenditure and that Hakizimana never used it for his own benefit, this was an administrative error but not criminal.
“Administrative errors should be punished by administrative laws most especially that the money was used for the benefit of the country by repairing the Governor’s residence,” Udahemuka said.
Efforts to talk to Hakizimana and his co-accused for a comment were futile as both their cell phones were switched off by press time.