KIGALI - Nyarugenge Lower Instance Court has adjourned the ruling of a case involving Rwanda Independent Media Group (RIMEG) editors to January 29, 2008.
Charles Kabonero, the RIMEG managing director, and Didace Gasana, the Newsline editor, are charged with defamation and malice after publishing an article in the Newsline, in which they alleged that businessman, Tribert Rujugiro had evaded taxes in South Africa.
The presiding Judge, Joseph Kabaija, who announced the adjournment on Friday, November 23 was to make the ruling of the case the same day, but did not because defendants requested for a retrial, following the prosecutor’s request that the duo serve a one year imprisonment.
Earlier on, the state had announced that it had lost interest in the case, but during the hearing that took place last week, a prosecutor suddenly appeared.
Neither the editors, nor their lawyer were present at the time when the one year sentence was preferred against them by the prosecutor. Gasana, who attended Friday’s hearing, said that they did not make it to court on November 13, but on November 14 they wrote to the Court requesting for a retrial. He added that on January 29, they will make their submissions.
“I came and found when the session had closed, then the following day, we wrote to the Court requesting for adjournment. We are happy to see that our request was honoured,” Gasana said after the Court hearing.
He said the court’s decision is giving them more time to present their facts and make the Court understand that what they are calling a crime is just a civil dispute.
“For the first time in this case, we will have our Lawyer,” Gasana said, adding that the two editors had not got a legal representative for the past, but they hope to get back to Court with one John Bigaraba, their Lawyer.
John Kabaija, Umuseso lawyer said the plaintiff, Rujugiro, requested for a compensation of USD150,000, for the damages, losses and malice in his business. The losses include a deal in which Rujugiro wanted to buy a bank in Burundi, but was denied due to mistrust of the country and the bank stakeholders.
Rujugiro also requested for Frw15million which he said he has spent on legal services.