KIGALI - As the trial of Victoire Ingabire and her four co-accused entered into its third consecutive week, the floor was yesterday opened to the defendants.
Ingabire is accused together with former members of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) militia; Lt. Colonel Tharcisse Nditurende, Lt. Colonel Noel Habiyaremye, Capt. Jean Marie Vianney Karuta and Major Vital Uwumuremyi.
In their indictment, the prosecution separated the case into two.
The first component is where Ingabire is accused alongside the officers on charges of forming an armed group with the aim of destabilising the country, complicity in acts of terrorism and conspiracy against the government by use of war and terrorism.
The second concerns Ingabire alone in which she faces three additional charges of provoking divisionism, genocide ideology and inciting the masses to revolt against the government by spreading harmful propaganda.
The former militia members pleaded guilty from the commencement of the trial and have since begged for clemency.
At the beginning of the defence, the presiding judge, Alice Rulisa resolved that the defendants follow the order with which prosecution presented the charges.
Lt. Col. Tharcisse Nditurende was the first to enter his guilty plea for all the three charges against him and in less than fifteen minutes, he explained his role in the crimes.
“Your honour, like the prosecution presented my charge sheet, I agree with all that they said concerning my role in all the three crimes, and I ask for forgiveness because I am aware that what I did is against the law,” pleaded Nditurende.
The boldness of his plea, however, evoked protests from the prosecution bench.
“We do not accept the way the defendant has presented his plea. He should take his time and present in detail his part in the crimes for which he is seeking for forgiveness,” protested Alain Mukurarinda.
The court president reminded the defendant that the law stipulates that in case of a guilty plea, the defendant has to clearly explain his participation in the crimes.
“Your summary cannot be accepted in this court because you have to explain in detail your involvement in these crimes,” said Rulisa.
Nditurende was compelled to restate his involvement in the three crimes in detail. His presentation is expected to continue today.