A case is scheduled to open at the Rwanda Supreme Court in which Jean Pierre Bembe, former DR Congo vice president is seeking to recover what he claims are his father’s properties in Rwanda.
On May 30, is when a the trial conference took place at the Supreme Court in Kigali of the complicated case that has been going on since 2005.
Bemba, who was recently acquitted by the International Criminal Court, wants the Supreme Court to quash a lower court decision granting ownership of a company Société d’Exploitation Agricole du Rwanda (E.A.R Ltd) to Ambasssaor Kayitana Imanzi Emmanuel, former Rwandan envoy to Kinshasa.
The case also involves Uganda-based Rwandan businessman Majyambere Silas and Congolese politician and businessman Dunia Bakarani Faustin and Bemba’s father Bemba Saolona, who died in 2009.
The story of the involvement of Bemba Saolona in Rwanda started in 1989, a the time a close confidante of President Mobutu Sese Seko, when they both visited Rwanda.
Rwanda’s former President Juvenal Habyarimana linked Bemba Saolona to Majyambere Silas to start joint investments in Rwanda. They went into partnership and opened E.A.R Ltd dealing in coffee exports.
Saolona had 59%, while Majyambere took 20% and the other 20% was taken by a Ngendahimana Ezechiel, who was related to Majyambere. The remaining 1% was given to Jean Pierre Bemba, the son.
E.A.R Ltd owned a vast amount of property in Remera, around the site of the former Alpha Palace Hotel and other areas in Kigali.
During the liberation war 1990-1994, there was not much going on in the company. Immediately following the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi, Bemba’s father sought to sell off his shares in the company as he was in Congo.
In 1997, in came Ambasssaor Kayitana Imanzi Emmanuel who had been posted to Kinshasa that year as envoy. He reportedly got Bemba senior to transfer a controlling stake in the firm to him around 2005.
At the same time, Congolese politician and businessman Dunia Bakarani Faustin claims to have secured Bemba senior’s stake for which he paid $160,000, according to court documents.
From this moment on, until 2017, the different men have been dragging each other to court for different things including forged documents and non payment.
Whenever a case was ruled in favor of one person, one of the men filed a new petition and the decision was dismissed. The process was repeated again by another person, and the process had been ongoing all these years.
However, in May 2008, Jean Pierre Bemba, was arrested over war crimes and transfered to the ICC. From then on, he was removed from the case over the E.A.R Ltd.
The latest is that after Bemba was acquitted in June 2018, he launched a hunt for his properties including his stake in E.A.R Ltd and that of his late father.
He filed an appeal in the Rwanda Supreme Court seeking halting of any transfer of property to Amb. Kayitana.
This past Friday is when the lawyers of all the sides appeared in the Supreme Court for trial conference to determine how to move forward with the hearings.
We will continue to monitor the case.