Rwanda: Prosecution Stalls in Ingabire Trial

KPFA Weekend News, 09.18.2011



Protestors in Holland, including Victoire Ingabire's daughter Raissa Ujeneza, front, hold posters calling for her freedom. KPFA Weekend News Host David Landau: In news from Africa, the official accounts of the 1994 Rwanda Genocide, the First and Second Congo Wars,  of 1996-2003, and the ongoing conflict in the Congo are being contested in the ongoing trial of Rwandan opposition leader Victoire Ingabire, in Kigali, Rwanda. Ingabire is charged with terrorism, threatening national security, and promulgating so-called genocide ideology. This week Ingabire's family rescinded their appeal to stop the transfer of evidence obtained by Dutch authorities in a 2010 raid on their home in the Netherlands, where Ingabire resided in exile for 16 years before returning to Rwanda. Ingabire's family said they were doing so because the items taken from their home prove nothing, and because the prosecution is simply stalling, asking for postponements and adjournments to obtain evidence, until the international community turns away. KPFA's Ann Garrison has the story.
KPFA/Ann Garrison:  Last year Dutch authorities, cooperating with the government of Rwanda, raided Victoire Ingabire's family home in the Netherlands searching, they said, for evidence. Dutch authorities from several parties reacted in outrage, asking why the Dutch Police were taking orders from Rwanda, but this week Ingabire's family rescinded their motion to stop the transfer of evidence, because they said, it proves nothing. Instead, the family says, they want the prosecution to move ahead with the trial.
Rwandan American legal scholar Charles Kambanda, a former member of Kagame’s ruling party, and now a professor at St. John’s University, says that the prosecution is stalling until the international community loses interest in the trial:
Law Professor Charles Kambanda
Professor Charles Kambanda:  So prosecution is only trying to create a situation where the Ambassadors, or these people representing foreign or international bodies, or what we call international community, get fed up with the case, because they have been attending sessions every day. Now, the prosecutor is aware of that, so they want these people to lose interest in the case, so they can bring their bogus evidence.  
KPFA: The difference between Ingabire and her party and Kagame and his, is Professor Kambanda says, a fundamentally different telling of the Rwanda Genocide, and because Ingabire represents power sharing that Kagame will not tolerate: 
Professor Charles Kambanda:  RPF is telling us the Tutsi were victims while the Hutu were perpetrators. FDU is saying no, both were equally victims and perpetrators. Another difference is power sharing. Victoire Ingabire is saying we must share power, among the Hutu, Tutsi, and the Twa. Kagame doesn't believe in that. Kagame believes in just handpicking a few Hutu, whom he's going to manipulate and put in power here and there, just to show people that there are a few Hutu in his system.
Victoire Ingabire and her British lawyer Iain Edwards confer at the outset of her trial in Kigali. Photo: AFP, Steve Terill KPFA:  The history of the Congo Wars, in which well over six million people have died, is also at stake in Ingabire’s trial because Kagame has invaded eastern Congo and taken control of much of its mineral wealth, while saying that his army is there to hunt down Hutu militias who killed Tutsis in 1994 and now threaten regime from the jungles across the border.  If it were established that not only Hutu but also Tutsi extremists, including Kagame’s army, massacred members of the other ethnic group in 1994, Kagame would lose the justification for his rule in Rwanda and his presence in Congo.
President Obama, in the Obama Congo Relief, Security, and Democracy Promotion Act of 2006 wrote that Congo’s neighbors, Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi, were using the presence of real or perceived hostile militias as an excuse to interfere in Congo, but two weeks ago, Obama requested immunity for Kagame in Habyarimana v. Kagame, a civil suit in a U.S. federal district court demanding damages and a jury trial fin which Plaintiffs promised to prove Kagame’s culpability in the Rwanda Genocide and Congo Wars.
For Pacifica, KPFA and AfrobeatRadio, I'm Ann Garrison.

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