After spending almost a year in prison and facing trial for months, one of famous critics of Rwanda’s President, Diane Shima Rwigara has set free by a court.
She and her mother Adeline Mukangemana were cleared of charges of insurrection and forgery by a high court on Thursday.
State prosecutors in Rwanda were pushing for a 22-year jail term for the activist and her mother.
Xavier Ndahayo, one of a panel of three judges, told those who gathered in the courtroom in Kigali that the “Court rules that Diane Rwigara is innocent.”
Diane Rwigara said after the ruling aid “I am very happy with the court decision. I am continuing with my political journey … everything I talked about in the past has not been resolved. There are still many political prisoners in the country.”
Before Thursday’s ruling, a group of US Congress members pushed for the charges against the two to be dropped.
Meanwhile Faustin Nkusi who speaks for the public prosecutor, said they would “review the details of the judgment and see whether we can take other options as the law requires”.
Who is Rwigara?
Rwigara is a 35-year-old accountant. She had accused President Kagame of stifling dissent and holding on to power.
Her accusation came up shortly before she declared her intention to contest the presidential election which President Kagame won.
Her father died in a car accident in 2015 that her family maintains was politically motivated. Rwigara has always maintained that accusations against her are baseless.
We welcome the acquittal of Diane and Adeline Rwigara, but if Rwanda wishes to demonstrate its commitment to human rights it must free all prisoners of conscience in the country and ensure that neither they nor their families face harassment or reprisals https://t.co/ZTz3Uf0LRs pic.twitter.com/7kR37rzC5g
— Freedom Now (@freedomnoworg) December 6, 2018
Kagame defends justice system
President Kagame last month defended his country’s justice system despite criticisms that his political opponents barely get fair court hearings.
Mr. Kagame’s political opponents are often prosecuted and jailed. Most victims of such a process say they are not given a fair trail.
President Kagame despite criticisms of suppressing political dissents is however credited with overseeing rapid economic development in his country.
He has led the country’s transformation after the 1994 genocide. Mr. Kagame last year won a general election to continue to serve another seven-year term.