November 20, 2019

BBC Journalist Makes U-Turn In Terrorism Case, Prosecution Alleges He Was Paid $15,000

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Here on November 28, last year, Phocus Ndayizeye was paraded before media with explosives. He had been missing for days

Phocus Ndayizeye, who was a freelance journalist of British broadcaster BBC’s great lakes service, has surprisingly changed his plea. During the bail hearings, he had pleaded guilty to all the charges.

Appearing at the High Court International Crimes Division in Nyanza district, southern province, for the start of substantive hearings, Ndayizeye when asked to take plea by the court, he said: NOT GUILTY.

In early November last year, the BBC stringer based in Muhanga district went missing. Ndayizeye’s case was all over the news. Then days later on November 28, RIB paraded Ndayizera before the media with box of explosives that he and others were allegedly planning to use to attack several areas of Kigali.

On that day he admitted to journalists that indeed he was involved in the plan. In the weeks and months that followed, 12 other people were arrested. They were denied bail and have since been in pretrial detention.

However, as their case opened on Tuesday, Ndayizeye, the accused ringleader changed plea, which means it will be a long protracted trial.

They all face four charges: conspiracy to cause state insecurity, belonging to criminal enterprise, conspiracy to commit terrorism and, illegally using and handling explosives.

Prosecution claims Ndayizeye was in constant contact with Cassien Ntamuhanga, who is in exile. Ntamuhanga, also a journalist, was in jail serving long term for terrorism, but reportedly escaped from prison.

Ndayizeye, says prosecution, recruited Karangwa Eliaquim, as the explosives expert. Together, and others, would plant explosives at a petrol station in Gatsata suburb in Kigali, power substation in Gikondo and Nzove water treatment plant. They were to use dynamite.

Karangwa, as par the prosecution’s narration, was to be the one in possession of the remote detonator and would press button from far away to evade arrest.

Prosecution claims that through WhatsApp communication, Ndayizeye and Ntamuhanga had also agreed on a price tag of $15,000 (about Rwf 14m) for the operation. It is not clear at this point if the money had been wired.

However, following a short break, the court adjourned the case to November 28.

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