A former member of the presidential guard Innocent Kalisa has recanted his evidence in the case he is co-accused to have been part of a plan to assassinate President Paul Kagame.
Kalisa is co-accused with Lt Joel Mutabazi, who is currently in the Appeals court trying to overturn a life sentence he was handed by the military high court. Lt Mutabazi was convicted on various counts including plot to kill the Head of State.
Together, they are 10 people who were sentenced to different jail terms back in October 2014.
In the ongoing hearings, prosecutors this Monday brought their latest witness Innocent Kalisa against Lt Mutabazi.
When Kalisa took to the stand, he told the 3-member panel of Justices of the Appeals Court that he was recanting his evidence and admitting to all cases against him.
He said that he “learnt alot of things” during the six years he has spent in prison. “Please forgive me so that I can be able to return to Rwandan society,” he told the court.
In new evidence for the prosecution against Lt Mutabazi, the ex-presidential guard Kalisa revealed that he was part of team engaged by Col Patrick Karegeya to plot Kagame’s assassination.
He names the other as Lt Mutabazi. Together, according to Kalisa, they held various planning sessions to plot the extremely delicate assassination project.
Col Karegeya was found dead in a South African hotel room of a high-end hotel on January 1, 2014 – at least 10 months before Lt Mutabazi and co-accused were arrested and convicted.
Before the convictions, Mutabazi was was first arrested on the evening of August 20, 2013 from a hotel near the Ugandan capital Kampala by Ugandan police acting on warrant from Rwanda.
However, the extradition to Rwanda was blocked by the Ugandan Government and UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) arguing Lt Mutabazi was a refugee, and therefore cannot be sent to Rwanda.
Then later in October 2013, according to court documents of a different case in Uganda military court martial, Mutabazi was “kidnapped” by a joint team of Rwandan agents aided by rogue Ugandan counterparts. He ended up in Rwanda, and was eventually convicted.
And then Col Karegera, a former head of external intelligence in Rwanda, was found dead in January the next year – about 3 months later.
It remains unclear at this point if Col Karegeya’s death was in any way related to the “kidnap” of Lt Mutabazi, or whether information obtained did play any role.
Except Israeli-trained Lt Mutabazi and another co-accused Nshimiyimana Joseph alias Camarade, the other 8 have now all changed their pleas and admitted to the prosecution’s charges. They are now helping the prosecution’s case to ensure Lt Mutabazi’s life sentence is upheld.
As for Col Karegeya, back in 2006, he was convicted by a military court on desertation and other cases. He fled Rwanda later. In 2011, he was again convicted to 20 years in absentia on terrorism.
This conviction came a year after he, along with ex-army chief Gen Kayumba Nyamwasa and two other ex-key offiicials in Rwanda, formed the Rwanda National Congress (RNC).
Its activities are the biggest part of what has caused the ongoing fallout between Rwanda and Ugandan governments.
Following Karegeya’s death, South Africa expelled some Rwandan diplomats, which Rwanda also did. SA also banned visas for all Rwandans – an issue still standing todate.
Back in South Africa, an inquest was opened in January this year by judge to probe Karegeya’s death. It has yet to finalise its work.