September 18, 2019

Terrorism Trial Of BBC Journalist Encounters New Hurdles As Online Court System Breaks Down


Phocus Ndayizeye was presented to media on November 28, 2018. He told journalists that indeed he and others had acquired explosives to blow up parts of Kigali

Terror case against Phocus Ndayizeye a stringer with British broadcaster BBC and 11 co-accused failed to get underway this Wednesday.

The International Crimes Chamber of the High Court located in Nyanza district, southern Rwanda, was today scheduled to start substantive hearing of the case against the accused who have been in custody since October last year.

Ndayizeye and his 11 co-accused, according to RIB, were intercepted with explosives they had planned to use on various targets around Kigali. They planned a campaign of terror and cause as much damage as possible. They were presented to media on November 28, last year.

The accused, all being detained at the Mageragere prison in Kigali, arrived very early at the court premises in Nyanza, about 3 hours driver away.

When the session opened around 8:30am, the panel of judges began by verifying particulars about the suspects. It was established that only Phocus Ndayizeye and Eliakim Karangwa had defense lawyers.

All the accused also informed the court that they had not accessed their case files. The lawyers said they are unable to continue as they dont know what their clients are charged.

The BBC freelance reporter remained silent, looking passively through his eye glasses, as others struggled to explain their circumstances to court. The reason for his unbothered mood is because he already pleaded guilty during the bail hearings.

Some of the explosives found with Phocus Ndayizeye where security agents arrested him

In court today, the other co-accused said they were woken at 3am by prison guards so they could be at the Nyanza court that early.

They asked court to direct that they be transfered to a jail facility nearest to the court.

The court also established today that the court filing system at Mageragere prison was not working properly, which meant the suspects and their lawyers are unable to access their files, that are online.

Rwanda Correctional Services (RCS) officer IP Ruhinda Charles, who was leading the security system accompanying the suspects confirmed to court that indeed the filing system had problems. He said RSC was aware.

It also emerged in court that the suspects on this case are actually 13. The other is Cassien Ntamuhanga, a former Amazing Grace Radio manager, who reportedly escaped from Mpanga prison in southern Rwanda. The radio has also been closed over other unrelated issues.

No new date has been set for the case.


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