Court stays hearing case of top officials accused of abusing public office

By Nicole Kamanzi M.
On 12 June 2020 at 05:44

In the Gasabo Primary Court yesterday appeared Caleb Rwamuganza, the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, and his co-accused who are being charged with different counts related to mismanaging public funds.

Among the other officials accused are Godfrey Kabera, the Director-General for National Planning and Eric Serubibi who was until recently the Director-General of Rwanda Housing Authority (RHA).

With these is also Christian Rwankunda, who was the Deputy Director-General in charge of fund management at Rwanda Social Security Board (RSSB).

They are faced with accusations, including misuse of public property, flouting of procedures on public tenders and complicity in flouting tendering procedures.

They appeared with their lawyers in court on Thursday, June 11, for bail hearing that did not materialize, due to prosecution’s failure to feed the details of their charges into the online case management system.

This is the second time that the case has been postponed; the hearing had been scheduled for last week, but it did not happen due to similar reasons.

The defendants’ lawyers complained to court that they had not been able to access the files detailing the accusations that their clients face because prosecution had not fed them into the system.

“Two days ago, we logged into the online system and reminded court and prosecution to assist us with the documents concerning our clients’ charges. But until today, it has not been done,” said a lawyer representing Caleb Rwamuganza.

Adding to that, Alphonse Sebazungu who represents Serubibi told court that police stopped him from accessing his client from where he is detained to prepare their defence.

“Yesterday I wanted to meet my client at a police station where he is being held, but police officers did not allow me. Yet, it was necessary for us to meet and prepare the defence,” he said.

The prosecutor in charge of the case informed the court that there is a general problem in the online system, specifically on the part of Rwanda Investigation Bureau (RIB) who are currently unable to feed documents into the system; the prosecutor said that the defendants’ lawyers should have approached court or prosecution itself and got the documents in another form, like flash disks.

As a response to Sebazungu’s claim on him being stopped from seeing his client, some of the hindrances were as a result of measures by police to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

They prosecution said to have talked to police to facilitate the meetings between lawyers and their clients.

Due to such hindrances, the presiding judge postponed the bail hearing to June 18, to give time to the lawyers to access the files and also meet their clients to discuss their defence.

The presiding judge postponed the bail hearing to June 18, to give time to the lawyers to access the files and also meet their clients to discuss their defence.

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