KIGALI - The defence into the trial involving Victoire Ingabire and her four co-accused, continued yesterday for the 3rd week with Major Vital Uwumuremyi taking the floor in the High Court.
Uwumuremyi, who is also a former member of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) militia, pleaded guilty to the three counts brought against him.
The charges are; formation of an armed group, complicity to acts of terrorism and conspiracy against the government and some constitutional provisions by use of war and terrorism.
While reading Uwumuremyi’s charge sheet, prosecution told court that he was instrumental in establishing contact with Ingabire while in the jungles of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The contact was later to result into the formation of a terrorist group known as Coalition des Forces Democratique΄ (CDF) affiliated to Ingabire’s FDU-Inkingi.
Appearing before a panel of judges led by Alice Rulisa, Uwumuremyi admitted all the three charges and begged for leniency, stressing that he did it thinking that he was fulfilling his obligations as a soldier and never knew that he was working with a terrorist group.
“Your honour, before facing prosecution, it never crossed my mind how severe my actions in the FDLR and CDF were. But now that I know, I ask for clemency,” Uwumuremyi said.
He explained that he made the decision to contact Ingabire after realising that there was no future for the FDLR rebel outfit and was looking for dynamic politicians to stir their cause of fighting the Rwandan government.
Their plot to form the terrorist group was going on well with Ingabire sending money totaling to about US$7,000 before the ring leaders were arrested. The money was used to buy weapons and ammunition to arm the group.
Uwumuremyi was arrested and repatriated during the ‘Umoja Wetu’ operation, which was conducted by Rwanda Defence Forces and the Congolese army.
At that time, he was serving as Commander of a battalion that had broken away to form the terrorist group. His colleague and commander, Tharcisse Nditurende, was apprehended in Burundi. This largely dismantled the group that had just established itself.
The defendant confessed that after his repatriation and demobilisation, he resumed his communication with both Ingabire and CDF. He was arrested as he attempted to sneak back into Congo after learning that his former commander was detained in Rwanda.
Uwumuremyi’s confession will mark the end of a series of confessions by the former militias being tried in the case, before giving way to Ingabire’s defence which is likely to begin today.