When Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza was surprisingly given presidential pardon in November last year, it was followed by another widely publicized incident; the granting of bail for Diane Rwigara, rowdy daughter of wealthy tycoon the deceased Rwigara Assinapol and his wife Adeline Rwigara Mukangemanyi.
But what perhaps was not envisaged is that there would be a chorus by criminals who are carrying big cases also asking to be given the same legal benefits.
A group of 10 individuals, all facing terror charges, today Monday morning submitted to the high court sitting in Nyanza district, southern province a request to be granted bail or pardoned altogether even when their case is still in the preliminary stages.
The suspects, all whom of claim to be associated to Ingabire Victoire’s political group FDU-Inkingi, want to be given the same treatment as she got from the state.
They are facing charges of belonging to criminal enterprise and planning acts that undermine the security of the state – putting them up for long prison terms if convicted.
Through their lawyer, Me. Gatera Gashabana – who incidentally was Ingabire and Rwigara defense attorney, the suspects argue that denying them bail is contrary to legal precedence already on the books.
“Why should my clients be treated differently from the Rwigaras by refusing them bail yet they face similar charges and the law provides that a suspect is innocent until proven guilty,” argues lawyer Gashabana.
The case has been going on for months and prosecution has vehemently opposed to accept any bail demand – citing the security threat of the suspects. Prosecution says they could all flee the country if ever set free.
In a related case, the defense is also asking the high court to compel the state to produce the eleventh suspect associated with the 10, Boniface Twagirimana, who it says has been missing.
The suspects were arrested in 2017, but the case has been dragging on and the trial is yet to start because the opposing sides are still battling over provisional release.
Among them includes a woman.