Ingabire case: Prosecution slams defence claims on jurisdiction

After a one week break, the trial involving Victoire Ingabire and her four co-accused resumed in the High Court yesterday. The trial was adjourned after Ingabire’s defence team raised concerns of lack of jurisdiction by the High Court to try some charges against Ingabire and issues of non-retroactivity of the law. “After our comprehensive analysis of the objections, we find them baseless both legally and in the principles governing criminal procedures,” prosecutor Bonaventure Ruberwa said.
Victoire Ingabire in court yesterday. The NewTimes \Timothy Kisambira
Victoire Ingabire in court yesterday. The NewTimes \Timothy Kisambira

After a one week break, the trial involving Victoire Ingabire and her four co-accused resumed in the High Court yesterday.

The trial was adjourned after Ingabire’s defence team raised concerns of lack of jurisdiction by the High Court to try some charges against Ingabire and issues of non-retroactivity of the law.

“After our comprehensive analysis of the objections, we find them baseless both legally and in the principles governing criminal procedures,” prosecutor Bonaventure Ruberwa said.

He criticised the defence for bringing up the objections in the course of the trial instead of doing so at the beginning.

Ingabire’s lawyers had argued that almost all the charges against Ingabire including the terrorism and genocide ideology charges were committed outside Rwanda and therefore, High Court had no territorial jurisdiction to try her.

They also said that charges preferred against Ingabire by prosecution especially the terrorism charge and the genocide ideology were committed before the laws punishing the same had been published in the official gazette.

The laws were published in 2009 and 2008 respectively, which if adhered to, defence claimed, would be retroactive, which is legally unaccepted.

“We think that the defence came up with these objections as a strategy to avoid facing the truth and avoiding going into the substance of the case,” the prosecutor stated.

According to prosecution, defence did not put into account that the 2008 law punishing the Genocide ideology came in as a compliment to the 2003 law on genocide denial and crimes against humanity, especially its fourth article.

“By saying that the law came into being in 2008, the defence wants to insinuate that Rwanda did not have a law on Genocide before which is not right,” said Ruberwa.

He provided court with two accounts of the cases on genocide denial that were tried by the Supreme Court on offences that were committed in 2006.

On the charge of complicity in the acts of terrorism, prosecution noted that the defendant went on to interact with the terrorist group working as their boss even after the publication of the law criminalising the same in 2009.

On claims of lack of jurisdiction by High Court to try Ingabire on offences committed outside Rwanda, prosecution articulated that Article ten of the Penal Code stipulates that if an offence is committed outside Rwanda and the country in which it is committed punishes the offence, the Rwandan courts have the competence to try such an offender.

“In this case, we, as well as the defence know that Holland which is the country where Ingabire committed the acts of divisionism criminalises it.”

Prosecution also singled out some international laws that provide exceptions on some offenses committed outside a country with the aim of harming it.

The hearing continues today, when court is most likely to make a ruling on the objection.

The objections cropped up when Ingabire was supposed to begin defending herself on the accusations preferred against her following the presentation of defence by her co-accused who include Lt. Colonels Tharcisse Nditurende and Noel Habiyaremye, Major Vital Uwumuremyi and Capt. Jean Marie Vianney Karuta.

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