By Patience Kirabo
Twelve Rwandans – among the many that were illegally incarcerated and detained in Uganda by the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI) were yesterday sent to 18 months’ imprisonment in what obviously was a kangaroo court procedure.
Present in Kisoro in what obviously was a premeditated plan to unjustly lock up the Rwandan nationals was Uganda’s Minister of State for Regional Cooperation, Philemon Mateke. Old man Mateke is the coordinator of the anti-Rwanda activities of (Kayumba Nyamwasa’s) RNC, as well as FDLR in Uganda.
The 12 Rwandans that suffered the travesty of the kangaroo court procedure in Kisoro are Pacifique Munyaneza, Vedaste Murasanyi, Estien Niyongabo, Felicien Nsengimana, Jean De Dieu Habumugisha, Emmanuel Dusabimana, John Nsengimana, Bosco Nshimiye, Corniel Ntezimana, Joshua Iradukunda, Stephen Harindimana, and Eric Twinomujuni.
They were among the 35 Rwandans that recently were moved from CMI’s torture dungeons – in what was widely reported as the agency bowing to pressure and releasing innocent Rwandans from its custody – to different Ugandan police stations.
They were handed over to the Kisoro Magistrate Court this Wednesday, 30 October.
Then, at the time of their supposed sentencing, something very strange happened.
According to family members of the Rwandans who had gone to see them at Kisoro, thinking they would be released, Mateke came and entered the court premises. He then proceeded to engage the magistrate and the state attorney, right there in the court, “for a long time.”
What was a minister doing in a trial of these innocent Rwandans who had never interacted with Mateke?
Something very strange clearly was at play, analysts observed.
The detainees and their family members found out a little time later the shock Mateke had prepared for them. The magistrate pronounced that all the twelve were to be locked up on allegations of “illegal entry” and “illegal stay” in Uganda!
“This man Mateke is the most evil person!” exclaimed an eyewitness. “These people already had endured a lengthy illegal detention by CMI, suffering torture, and now the so-called judge in Kisoro has decided to lock up these innocents for another 18 months!”
They all had been held incommunicado in the dungeons of CMI, some for more than two years and never received a court trial. They asserted the charges of “illegal entry” or “illegal entry” were bogus.
The fate they suffered was one shared by hundreds of innocent Rwandans that, as a result of Museveni’s anti-Rwanda hostility in backing groups bent on violently destabilizing Rwanda, have been abducted, illegally jailed, held in unknown locations and with no diplomatic services, and most tortured.
Lawyers of more than a hundred such arbitrarily detained Rwandans recently announced – at the time the 35 Rwandans were released – that the few of their clients that have had the fortune to be released have shown many signs of severe physical abuse and torture.
Eron Kiiza and Anthony Odur of Kiiza and Mugisha Advocates have again and again expressed amazement that Ugandan military authorities can so cavalierly disregard all laws and norms in detaining people and never allow them a proper court trial. “Actually some of our clients have been taken to military court – in contravention of even the Uganda Constitutional Court which ruled that military tribunals have no competence to try civilians!” said Kiiza.
When CMI released the 35 Rwandan nationals – a week ago on 25 October – people thought this was a sign of some hope for all illegally arrested of abducted Rwandans currently languishing in various places of detention and incarceration in Uganda.
That hope has been dashed by Mateke in Kisoro. The twelve people had pleaded they were innocent of the charges against them, saying in fact their entry visas into Uganda had long expired when they were in CMI detention. But even according to EAC Common Market Laws on freedom of movement of people and labor, “how could the question of illegal entry or illegal stay ever arise, given that Rwanda is a member state of the East African Community?”
Attorneys have been pointing out these things, to no avail.
Relatives of the 12 Rwandans in Kisoro, who had managed to track down where they had been taken, believe the harsh sentence meted out to these Rwandans was a result of Mateke’s animosity to Rwanda. It has been exposed many times. Last year in December when Congolese officials at Bunagana arrested senior FDLR officials LaForge Fils Bazeye and Theophile Abega, the two revealed they were coming from Kampala to attend a meeting organized by Mateke.
Mateke, at the instructions of Museveni, had convened the meeting at the Kampala Serena that brought the FDLR officials together with those of RNC, “to better coordinate the workings of the two groups.”
Now it appears the same person is in charge of ordering and overseeing persecution of innocent Rwandans, further exacerbating their suffering.
“How lawless can Uganda get under Museveni?” wrote a twitter commentator.