Uganda Military court drops charges against two Rwandans

On 18 February 2020 at 01:13

On Monday, 17th February 2020, the Military Court in Uganda acquitted Fidèle Nzabonimpa and Selemani Kabayija, both Rwandan nationals. They had been accused of illegal possession of firearms. The decision comes a few weeks after the same court set free 9 other Rwandans who had been held in Ugandan jails for a very long time with no right to trial.

Fidèle Nzabonimpa and Selemani Kabayija were immediately set free after the verdict was pronounced. The jury was chaired by Lt. Gen. Andrew Gutti after prosecution led by Cpt. Ambrose Baguma decided to drop all charges against the two Rwandans as New Vision announced.

The 9 Rwandans who were recently released include Rene Rutagungira, Herman Nzeyimana, Nelson Mugabo, Etienne Nsanzabahizi, Emmanuel Rwamucyo, Augustin Rutayisire, Adrien Munyagabe, Gilbert Urayeneza, and Claude Iyakaremye.

Among other accusations, the two Rwandans were on trial for the alleged abduction of Jackson Kalemera also known as Ndinga as well as Lieutenant Joel Mutabazi.

During the trial, prosecutor Capt Baguma stated he had received strict orders to drop all charges against Kabayija and Nzabonimpa.

“Your Excellency, President of the Jury and Excellencies Judges, since November 8th, 2019, the two Rwandans stand accused of illegal possession of firearms but I have received orders to drop all the charges.”

He did not mention who gave the orders or what was the reason behind acquitting the two Rwandans. Gen Gutti ordered their immediate release although the alleged crimes they committed are usually punishable by death.

Unjustified arrests of Rwandans have become recurrent in Uganda where they are denied trial but instead thrown in jail and tortured based on allegations of possessing firearms and being Rwandan spies. Some who are tortured are left permanently handicapped while others immediately die.

Rwanda accuses Uganda of financing anti-Rwanda armed groups and coercing Rwandans who are held in jails to join those groups or risk being murdered.

In a bid to mend the precarious relations between Rwanda and Uganda, a fourth quadripartite summit is scheduled on February 21st, 2020 where President Kagame will meet President Museveni at Gatuna Border.

On Friday last week, Sam Kutesa, Ugandan Minister of Foreign Affairs said that in order to solve conflicts between Rwanda and Uganda, Uganda acquitted 9 Rwandans who were accused of illegally possessing firearms.

“I am requesting Rwanda to show good faith as well and release the 50 plus Ugandans being held in Rwandan jails.”

Olivier Nduhungirehe, State Minister in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said that there are 9 Ugandan prisoners who are serving their sentence in Rwanda and that they will be granted the freedom to meet Ugandan envoys as the law dictates.

“In accordance to the Luanda Memorandum of Understanding, Rwanda has dropped charges against 15 Ugandans and they were set free.”

The meeting of the Ad Hoc Commission between Rwanda and Uganda that was held on February 14th, 2020 agreed on 6 resolutions.

The first resolution states that both parties agreed to verify the number and status of nationals of either party detained in each other’s country and report it through a ’Note Verbale’ in three weeks.

Both parties also agreed to protect and respect the human rights of nationals of either party.

The third resolution states that "both parties committed to finalize the Extradition Treaty to be signed in the presence of the Heads of States at the fourth quadripartite summit to be held at Gatuna/Katuna common border between Rwanda and Uganda on February 21st, 2020"

As for the fourth resolution, by February 15th, 2020, the Government of Rwanda will write a note addressed to the Government of Uganda about alleged destabilizing activities carried out by Anti-Rwanda terrorist organizations on Ugandan territory.

Uganda will respond to the issues that can be immediately addressed by February 20th, 2020 and further investigate the unresolved issues.

The Ad Hoc commission recommended to the quadripartite summit to consider normalizing the movement of people and goods between Rwanda and Uganda.

Finally, both parties agreed to resume collaboration between defense and security organs in order to improve national security.

After the third quadripartite summit that was held in Angola, President Museveni wrote on his Twitter account that “Uganda will do its part to ensure resolutions of the summit are implemented.

The Military Court in Uganda acquitted Fidèle Nzabonimpa and Selemani Kabayija, both Rwandan nationals.