MUHANGA - The release, by Ngororero court, of a suspect accused of drowning a senior two student of Groupe Scolaire Gasovu, has been criticised by Muhanga District residents and family members.
Jeannette Nyirakamegeri, 19, drowned in Nyabarongo River on February 25, where she and a group had gone to gather animal fodder along the river banks.
The residents of Rugendabari Sector, say the deceased, drowned as she tried to run away from Venuste Habakubaho, a resident of Ngororero district, who was chasing them.
The body of the deceased has never been found despite the vigorous search that was mounted by residents.
Residents said that the suspect was released under unclear circumstances despite efforts by local leaders to bring him to justice.
Rosette Nyirabugenimana, the mother of the deceased, said Monday that she reported the case to local leaders in Muhanga who subsequently followed up the matter with their Ngororero counterparts. The suspect was arrested- but was released two days later.
“I cannot bring back my daughter but she was a citizen who deserves justice. I have been undermined in my plea for justice and I think someone should stand in for me,” the mother said.
Nyirabugenimana added the suspect has been bragging of how he managed to win the case after appearing in court.
When contacted, the Executive Secretary of Rugendabari, Aimable Ndayisaba, also said there was no fair justice in the handling of the case, adding that Muhanga leadership has tried to intervene in vain.
“We are aware of the case; it has been controversial. The judiciary in Ngororero has demanded evidence of the body, which is missing of course. We were told that without this evidence, the case would be dismissed,” Ndayisaba said.
Residents, however, insist that children who were with the deceased had offered enough evidence to pin the suspect.“If such a case is not given weight and urgency, it can create a bad precedence and a feeling of impunity,” one angry resident told reporters at Gasovu Village, Kanyana cell, where the incident took place.
Eria Nzabandora, 15, one of the children at the crime scene, told The New Times that the suspect appeared drunk and he first attacked and stripped naked a lady in the nearby farmland before turning to them.
“The man was shouting ordering us to drop the grass or else we face his wrath. I hid in a bush and saw him run after the deceased and her brother. The last thing I saw was the girl jumping into the river,” Nzabandora said.
The brother to the deceased, Uzabahari Birahira, 18, also said that the grassland-where they picked animal feeds was a no-man’s-zone. He also claimed that the court didn’t give him the opportunity to testify.
Sources however, say the case will be revisited on September 21, by the Gatumba courts.