Bail for Rose Kabuye! Who are the French kidding?

When French Judge Jean Louis Bruguière’s compiled the report that led to his indictments against Rwandans leaders, they were carefully crafted in such a way as to paint Mrs. Rose Kabuye and the other leaders he targeted, as terrorists.

When French Judge Jean Louis Bruguière’s compiled the report that led to his indictments against Rwandans leaders, they were carefully crafted in such a way as to paint Mrs. Rose Kabuye and the other leaders he targeted, as terrorists.

The French judge worked hard in an attempt to slot his victims within the definition of terrorism, precisely because he knew terrorism today, is probably the worst possible crime anyone can be accused of.

People arrested or captured on charges related to terrorism are not read their rights. In ordinary circumstances, when a suspect is arrested, law enforcement officers read them their rights beginning with “you are under arrest… you have the right to remain silent, you have the right to an attorney and anything you say can be used against you in a court of law”.

This pronouncement is made as handcuffs are slapped on the suspect’s wrists. Frightening as this procedure is, it is not applied to terror suspects. They don’t only lose their rights, but they are treated like animals.

They are shackled in heavy chains, hooded and are covered with blind folds akin to firing squad targets. The dehumanizing and traumatizing experience they endure, ranging from water boarding to sleep deprivation, has been widely covered elsewhere.

Now, why was Mrs. Rose Kabuye treated much differently from the other captured “terrorists” we have seen on television screens and newspaper front page stories?

It gets even more intriguing, considering that both Germany and France chose to ignore the Vienna Convention which entitles her to immunity, as a diplomat carrying out her functions, when they conspired to arrest her about two weeks ago.

How did she get to be granted bail, only after a few hours session with French judges? It should be clearly understood that the words “bail” and “terrorists” can not be uttered in the same breath.

And here you have a senior Rwandan government official granted her freedom after her initial and brief appearance before the very French judges who have, over the last two years, been dying  to lay their hands on her, on charges of “terrorism”. Strange indeed.

It gets more mind boggling: Mrs. Rose Kabuye, according to her bail terms, can even travel to Rwanda if she so wishes, as long a judge consents.

Since when did terrorism suspects qualify for bail, let alone being granted the freedom to travel to their own countries, and report back to the arresting countries (France in this case) at their own timing?

Incidentally, at no point during her entire ordeal did Rose Kabuye appear publicly in handcuffs or any other restraining gadgets, despite her European tormentors’ refusal to accord her the diplomatic status as enshrined in the Vienna Convention.

Her only post-arrest television appearance, so far, is the brief interview she granted to France 24 Television net work soon after her release. The images the world saw, were not only of a highly dignified Mrs. Kabuye, but were also re-assuring as she did Rwandans proud, the world over.

From the very day Rose Kabuye was arrested, analysts and experts, appearing on radio and television networks in France, were all in agreement that the case against Mrs. Kabuye was a non-starter, and was most definitely going to collapse, if the government insisted on prosecuting it.

They cited all the relevant reasons, ranging from the flaws that characterize the entire investigation process to Abdul Ruzibiza’s retraction of his testimony to judge Bruguière.

Indeed the widows of the military pilots who flew Habyarimana’s plane, too are convinced, having listened carefully to their own lawyers, that the case is fast disintegrating and there is no chance in hell that Mrs. Rose Kabuye would be convicted on the basis of the trumped up evidence submitted by Bruguière.

This is the message these women have publicly articulated in their recent statements following the arrest in Frankfurt. While the French government knows it is never going to win this case, the political harassment, against the government of Rwanda, disguised as justice has to continue in one way or another.

By keeping her on some kind of indefinite bail with the most attractive conditions, the French government is hoping to wear Mrs. Rose Kabuye down, up to a point when she will apply to go home and just treat the whole episode as a bad dream. In the meantime the indictments will remain in force, as they continue to serve the very political purpose they were meant for in the first place.

More than anything else, so far, the treatment Mrs. Rose Kabuye has received in France, considering the seriousness of the charges leveled against her, and the most attractive bail conditions she has been offered, clearly demonstrate the political nature of the French case against Rwandan leaders and the persecution they continue to perpetrate against the Rwandan people.

France has no case against Rwanda, it should simply release Mrs. Rose Kabuye unconditionally, and drop the entire disgraceful political vendetta and the hostage-taking project.

The Rwandan people have ably demonstrated that they are not prepared to settle for anything less. Besides, the French government knows better than many that there are other ways of dealing with defeat.

Ends

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