Following weeks of a pre-trial hearing involving Victoire Ingabire and her co-accused,Judge Angelique Rutazana has ruled that the High Court is qualified to go ahead with the case, dismissing the objections raised by the defence counsel as ‘baseless’.
The trial,took a different direction on September 26, when the defence objected the territorial jurisdiction of the high court and the principle of non-retroactivity of the law.
Ingabire is facing terrorism charges with the prosecution alleging that she was working with senior FDLR militiamen to form a military wing known as Coalition of Defence Forces (CDF) aimed at destabilising Rwanda.
She is also accused of promoting ethnic divisions, propagating the genocide ideology and trivialising the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
The defense team also demanded that charges of complicity to terrorism acts and formation of an armed group be dropped alleging that she was never notified of the charges during her preliminary interrogations.
“After examining the objections and hearing from both sides, the high court finds the objections baseless. This court declares itself competent to try Ingabire,” declared Judge Angelique Rutazana yesterday morning.
On the issue of territorial jurisdiction, Rutazana said that court found that article 90 of the organic law relating to the competence of Rwandan courts, gives the high court competence to try any one regardless of nationality and the country where she committed the crimes as long as they (crimes) are against humanity.
The Judge went on to say that article 13 of the penal code also gives the high court the competence to try a Rwandan or foreigner who has committed a felony or misdemeanor committed in Rwanda or outside Rwanda as if it was committed in Rwanda.
Article ten of the same code also allows Rwandan courts to prosecute any Rwandan who commits a misdemeanor in another country, if that country punishes the crime.
Holland, where Ingabire allegedly committed the crimes punishes them.
On the objection concerning non-retroactivity of the law, the court found that the request by the defence to remove from the file evidence on genocide ideology and terrorism cannot be granted due to the stage at which the case he reached.
Ingabire had initially requested that evidence that dates back before 2008 and 2009 when the laws on genocide ideology and terrorism were published be deleted from the file.
After reading the verdict, Justice Alice Rulisa announced that the case would continue from where it had stopped, prior to the raising of the objections.
Ingabire took to the floor and began her defence. She, however, presented her profile as requested by the judge for most of the afternoon.