‘Intwarane’ suspects remanded, leader freed

Nyarugenge Primary Court yesterday remanded seven women and a man for 30 days over illegal assembly and inciting insurrection
The suspects allegedly departed from St. Michael Cathedral . The New Times/ Timothy Kisambira.
The suspects allegedly departed from St. Michael Cathedral . The New Times/ Timothy Kisambira.

Nyarugenge Primary Court yesterday remanded seven women and a man for 30 days over illegal assembly and inciting insurrection

The accused, who are members of the so-called Intwarane za Yezu na Maria, a sect made up of some members of the Catholic Church, were arrested on July 21, as they marched around the city allegedly prophesising bloodshed in the country.

During the arraignment of the suspects, prosecutors had said that the kind of message they carried was aimed at inciting public anxiety. Two of the suspects were later released,

The duo that was released includes Agathe Nyirahabyarimana, the founder of the sect, whom Judge Laurence Nyirankuliza released because she was not part of the demonstration, and no proof was provided that the demonstration was held at her instigation.

The message carried by the group, which was intercepted near St. Michael Cathedral in downtown Kigali, was such that the country is under a dictatorship and that people should repent, otherwise more blood will be shed than what was shed during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

Prosecution had suggested that all members be provisionally detained “since they were facing serious crimes and releasing them would encourage them to keep spreading their inflamatory messages.”

Message from Holy Spirit?

During the pre-trial hearing, Nyirahabyarimana, through her lawyer Emmanuel Cyimana, said that the aim of her group is not about prophesying political events, saying the group was solely created for spiritual purposes.

Angelique Karega, who was also released, was considered not culpable since court heard that she had attended mass at Sainte Famille Church while the group departed from Saint Michel, and she was arrested only because that day, she had contact with the rest of the defendants.

The court ruled that the eight be charged with illegal demonstration and public gathering, and inciting insurrection and trouble among the population.

During the pre-trial hearing last week, the suspects said they did not need to seek authorisation to demonstrate “because their message was from the Holy Spirit.”

They said they even carried the same message about war in different parishes both inside and outside the country.

Thus, they said that when they were intercepted, they were headed to the Kiyovu-based State House to deliver the message to the Head of State, and the message was to be delivered by their de facto spokesperson Chantal Mutamba.

Mutamba said she does not recall anything she did or said that day, saying that at the time, she was “possessed by the Holy Spirit.”

Intwarane members also accuse their parent church –the Roman Catholics—of not believing in the powers of the Holy Spirit to heal or prophesy.

Leaders of the Catholic Church who spoke to The New Times last month, including the Archbishop of Kigali, Thadee Ntihinyurwa, said they do not acknowledge this group, although they are aware of its existence.

According to Article 685, any person who holds a public meeting or demonstration on public streets without notifying competent authorities is liable to a term of imprisonment of eight days but less than six months and a fine of Rwf100,000 to Rwf1 million.

However, article 463 of the Penal Code says knowingly spreading rumours or exciting the population with intention to cause trouble, is an offence that can attract 15 years in jail.

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