Former Director Generals of the Rwanda Education Board (REB) Dr John Rutayisire and Janvier Gasana have been released on bail despite vigorous protests by prosecution.
The Court of First Instance in Kacyiru, here in Kigali, also ordered for their immediate release, after dismissing the prosecution’s case as baseless and unfounded.
Dr John Rutayisire was the first to head this board in 2011, and was replaced by Janvier Gasana in 2015.
They were arrested on March 21 by the Rwanda Investigation Bureau (RIB) in a much-publicised operation, along with two other people.
Prosecutors claim the four connived to fraudulently award a contract for the keeping of tens of thousands of the small laptop computers meant for primary pupils.
The tender involved renting a warehouse at a tune of about Rwf16 million per month for about 100,000 laptops meant for the One Laptop per Child program. In actual sense, the government had never procured such a large number of XO computers.
It is alleged the officials signed off hiring the space at Rwf 26,000 per square meter which is way too much compared to market price of about Rwf16,000 or less.
The whole contract involved up to Rwf249m. The case arose from the reports of the Auditor General.
However, as Dr Rutayisire and Gasana remained in custody for more than three weeks, it emerged that the businessman who got the contract had disappeared. He has yet to be found.
The officials had been battling to be freed on bail, and prosecution has been fighting to maintain them in preventive detention for a month in order to complete investigations.
However, in its decision today, court agreed with the defense that the suspects can be tried while out of jail, but also granted prosecution at least 30 days for appealing.
It means, the appeals court could rule they be out in custody.
Neither the accused nor the prosecution team were in court as the bail decision was being delivered.
Initially, the hearing was scheduled yesterday on April 8, but was postponed because apparently the judge had other engagements.
CORRECTION: This story has been modified. The previous version erroneously reported that the suspects have been “acquitted”. We have since established the verdict was for bail and suspects have instead been granted bail. The prosecution may appeal. We apologize for any inconvenience caused.