Rights group denounces trial of Rwandan opposition leader

3 Nov

3/11/2012 (AFP)

Rwandan opposition leader, Victoire Ingabire is led to the Rwandan High Court (AFP/File, Steve Terrill)

NAIROBI — The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) on Saturday denounced what it called irregularities in the trial of Rwandan opposition leader Victoire Ingabire, who was sentenced to eight years on terror charges and for denying the country’s genocide.

“The FIDH denounces the numerous irregularities that marred the fairness of the trial,” the federation said in a statement, adding that it regretted statements from the Rwandan government during the trial “suggesting the guilt of Madame Ingabire”.

Such statements harmed the “good functioning of justice and lead to doubts over political non-interference in judicial affairs,” FIDH president Souhayr Belhassen said in the statement.

“Rwandan authorities must respect the separation of powers and guarantee the independence of the justice system,” she added.

Ingabire, who was sentenced Tuesday, boycotted her trial mid-way through proceedings after the court cut short a witness who accused the Rwandan authorities of rigging evidence against her.

The FIDH faulted Rwandan judicial authorities for failing to take into account Ingabire’s objections.

Ingabire had returned to Rwanda in January 2010 from exile in The Netherlands, seeking in vain to run for president in polls that year that incumbent Paul Kagame won with 93 percent of the vote.

The genocide denial charges against Ingabire were triggered by remarks she made then at the memorial to the estimated 800,000 people, the majority of them Tutsis, who were killed in the slaughter.

Ingabire, herself a Hutu and the leader of the Unified Democratic Forces (FDU), a political grouping that has not been allowed to register as a party, said it was time Hutu war victims were also commemorated.

She was arrested in October 2010 and accused of trying to get an armed group to overthrow the Rwandan regime.

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have also denounced the trial as unfair and flawed.

Source: AFP

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