Brig Gen Rtd Frank Rusagara, currently appealing a 20year conviction, is a pained man – as he himself made it known in court.
But when a youthful military prosecutor Cpt Faustin Nzakamwita sought to dismiss his emotional submission to the civilian Appeals court on Tuesday, Gen Rusagara came down hard.
On March 31, 2016, Rusagara, ex-head of the presidential guard Col Tom Byabagamba, and Rusagara’s driver Sergeant François Kabayiza were sentenced by the military court to varied terms. Byabagamba got 21 years, as Rusagara was given 20 years, while Kabayiza got 5 years.
The two senior officers were jailed for cases including inciting insurrection and tarnishing the government’s image. The prosecution had accused them of criticizing the government, alleging state involvement in assassinations of opponents, and complaining about foreign and economic policy. Kabayiza was jailer for concealing evidence.
Their appeal got underway earlier this year. Seriously ill Kabayiza has been freed as he completed his sentence. As of Tuesday, Byabagamba had completed his final submission to the Appeals court.
It was General Rusagara’s turn to make his case. In an hour-long submission, Rusagara said the military court erred in charging and convicting him with serving soldier Col Byabagamba, yet he was retired.
Brig Gen Rusagara went into a long narration of his role in the liberation war from October 1, 1990 to July 1994. Throughout his submission, he said again and again, that he had never tried to conspire against Government. He also repeatedly named RPF rebel commander Gen Fred Rwigema.
“I standing before you is about 60 years, I had worked 20 years for those who imprisoned me for 20 years. Its so hurtful,” said Rusagara.
At that point prosecutor Captain Nzakamwita interrupted saying Gen Rusagara was bringing up historical events not relevant to the case.
“You had not yet joined the army during the time I served,” Rusagara fired back angrily.
Brig Gen Rusagara manned various positions in the military, including heading the military court martial.
He is also best known for his publication on the military in Rwanda.
In 2009, he published a paper titled: “Resilience of a Nation: A History of the Military in Rwanda.”
The publication highlights the Rwanda Defence Forces (RDF) as the best possible army that ever ruled Rwanda.
He also explains the origin of how the RPF rebels and its members came to be known as “Inkotanyi”. RPF cadres are still referred to as so up to now.
The name “Inkotanyi” refers to a military formation in pre-colonial Rwanda under King Yuhi IV who ruled 1744-1802. It was a time Rwanda looks back with pride.