Police roughs up New Times photographer
BY IGNATIUS SSUUNA AND GODWIN AGABA
THE one-month long hide-and-seek game between police and Assinapol Rwigara ended dramatically yesterday after the prominent Kigali businessman presented himself to Prosecutor General Martin Ngoga. But before he walked in the Prosecutor General's office in the early morning, Rwigara took journalists by surprise when he first tipped many of them that he was available in Kigali.
"Yes, he presented himself to me this morning. I have handed him over to CID but told them that his rights must be respected," Ngoga told journalists soon after Rwigara left his office.
Rwigara has been in hiding since his construction site killed three workers in a landslide accident in July 12. Following the disaster, which also injured five others, Kigali City Council (KCC) officials heaped blame on Rwigara and the site engineers.
Police arrested the construction site engineer Eugene Riberakurora and detained him at Remera Police Station.
Police had earlier also said they sought Rwigara in relation to the accident. A family source said yesterday that Rwigara had paid compensation to families of the workers soon after the accident.
Rwigara yesterday spent about four hours in the Prosecutor General's office before Ngoga handed him over to the head of Criminal Investigation Department (CID) Costa Habyara who took him to his office in Kacyiru for interrogation.
By press time, Rwigara was still held at CID headquarters.
However, there was drama at the Prosecutor General's office when CID dodged waiting reporters at the main entrance and took Rwigara through the backdoor. Then, the chase for Rwigara immediately ensued as journalists and family members rushed to catch his glimpse.
Judicial authorities had frozen Rwigara's bank accounts and closed his factories recently but Ngoga yesterday assured family members that all would be cleared immediately.
Asked whether Brig. Generals Frank Rusagara and Sam Kanyemera Kaka would be released now that Rwigara has been arrested, Ngoga said he suspects the two cases are not related.
Ngoga said that he thinks Kaka and Rusagara could have been arrested on different charges and not in connection with Rwigara's escape.
Rusagara was arrested on August 1.
Though the military has not yet determined the exact charges against him, they had alluded to the fact that his arrest resulted from Rusagara's efforts to impede Rwigara's arrest. And on August 11, the army also detained Brig. Gen. Kaka for reportedly interfering with Rwigara's arrest. Kaka, a former army commander, is an RPF legislator.
The Speaker of Parliament Alfred Mukezamfura recently said House agreed to lift Kaka's immunity.
Meanwhile, George Barya, The New Times' Senior Photojournalist was briefly held at CID for taking Rwigara's photos.
Barya was arrested around 10.a.m and detained for nearly an hour after he took a photo of Rwigara as he emerged out of CID chief Costa Habyara's car, Suzuki Vitara.
"They manhandled me for almost an hour. All were asking why I took the photo but as a journalist I was also doing my work," Barya said soon after he was released.
"Is taking photos of a man, police have been hunting for a month a criminal? I am scared," Barya added.
Barya was one of the several journalists who has pitched camp at the Prosecutor General's office since 7.a.m. No sooner had started taking pictures of the Rwigara as he got out of Habyara's car than police officers pounced on him.
"You are under arrest. You cannot take his photos without police permission," one police officer charged.
Barya was carried shoulder high by six police officers in one of their offices for interrogation.
"They sent for a policeman expert who deleted all the pictures. This is unfortunate because I expect police to cooperate with us," Barya said.
Rwigara, in a chocolate shirt, blue jean trousers and wearing a cowboy hat, appeared composed.