The High Court in Kigali yesterday slashed sentences earlier handed to three students of Riviera High School who were convicted of arson by Gasabo Intermediate Court.
The students were found guilty of torching a school dormitory on June 18, 2017.
The dormitory hosted at least 45 students but no one was injured.
Reading the verdict on Thursday, the presiding judge ruled that two of the students (names withheld because they are minors) who were handed one year jail term will serve four months with a fine of Rwf500,000, while the other who had pleaded guilty to the charges and sentenced to four years in jail, will serve five months and pay a fine of Rwf500,000.
The later had initially pleaded guilty of starting the fire, claiming he was conducting an experiment.
The judge’s decision means that the minors who were jailed in July are set free from the rehabilitation centre for minors in Nyagatare District because they have already served out their sentences.
Speaking to The New Times after the ruling, one convict’s lawyer, Assoumani Minsiragwira said the defence team welcomed the verdict as they had not accepted the ruling by the Gasabo Intermediate Court.
“Though my client had pleaded not guilty his sentence was reduced. In other terms justice was served. One had pleaded guilty and was cooperative with the court’s investigations,” Minsiragwira said.
Another group of minors co-accused with the trio are below 14 years.
Under article 72 of the penal code, they were not prosecuted but were instead sent to a rehabilitation centre for unstipulated period of time.
A lot of property especially students’ beddings were lost in the fire.
Following police investigation after the incident, 11 students were arrested but a number of them couldn’t go on trial because they were below 14 years of age.