KIGALI - The long-awaited trial of businessman Assinapol Rwigara kicked off yesterday at Nyarugenge District court with the accused challenging the prosecution to provide sufficient evidence against him. The prosecution prayed court to remand Rwigara for thirty days to allow them more time to conclude their investigations but the tycoon and his five lawyers wondered what kind of investigations were being carried out on a landslide accident. He was charged with homicide and evasion of justice.
The Kigali City tycoon surrendered himself to Prosecutor General Martin Ngoga on August 17 ending weeks of speculation over his whereabouts following his July 27 escape when he eluded three police officers at a funeral in Kabusunzu, a city suburb.
His woes started on July 12 when three workers died at his construction site near Kigali City centre in a landslide accident, which also injured five others.
“I was not in hiding because my building collapsed and killed people.
I took time to come out because there were unclear arrests of workers after the accident and I wanted to first study the situation,” he told court. The court was presided over by Joseph Kabaija while the prosecution was represented by Gallecan Rukaka.
The counsels for the defendant request for a bail on the grounds that the days for producing their client had expired.
The prosecution protested the bail arguing that Rwigara has no physical address.Rwigara appeared before court in a black suit and looked composed throughout the hearing.
His lawyers also requested that state avails experts to assess and determine what caused the July 12 site accident. They said this would ensure fairness in the trial.
“There is no substantial evidence that makes our client to remain under detention,” Pierre Claver Zitoni, one of the lawyers said.
The fully-packed courtroom was sent into thunderous laughter when his other lawyer, Jean Bosco Kazungu said that those who are behind Rwigara’s current problems will learn a lesson when their turn comes.
The court is due to pronounce itself on the bail application today.
Rwigara’s case led to the arrest of Brigadier General Frank Rusagara and retired Brigadier General Sam Kanyemera Kaka, who were both accused of blocking police from arresting the businessman last month.
The duo was however granted bail over a week ago, and is due to re-appear before the Military Tribunal on September 6.Ends