Cabinet on Thursday evening replaced the country’s Prosecutor General Jean Bosco Mutangana – in changes that also saw the appointment of new ambassadors.
The new Prosecutor General is Aimable Havugiyaremye, has been the chair of the Rwanda Law Reform Commission.
Mutangana, appointed in December 2016, has not been given any other appointment for now. He leaves the nation’s top law enforcement institution with some serious issues hanging over his back.
One of the most serious is accusations he was at the forefront of a complicated scheme to frustrate a legal battle in which the Pentecostal Church of Rwanda (ADEPR) lost Rwf 3.3billion.
The Chronicles first reported about the scandal in early September. Twelve (12) former leaders of ADEPR, a church with up to 3m followers in Rwanda, are currently before an appeals court.
A lower court acquitted them of any responsibility in the disappearance of the Rwf 3.3b which had been collected from ADEPR followers, supposedly to repay a bank loan. The credit line had been acquired to build DOVE Hotel in Kigali which was to be an asset of the church.
However, the loan was not paid, and it kept accumulating. Since early 2017, the 12 former top leaders were arrested by the government which was trying to diffuse what would have possibly led to a breakup of ADEPR. The followers could not understand how they were fleeced of such a large sum of their money. All signs of trouble were out in the open for the authorities to see.
Prosecutor General Mutangana was at the forefront of the government intervention, with Police, to hold the 12 leaders accountable. The lower court jailed 2 of the twelve and ordered them to refund Rwf 32m, which is peanuts compared to the billions stolen.
The current leader of ADEPR, Rev. Bishop Karuranga Ephraim forced the government prosecution team to institute an appeal.
However, a 15-page dossier obtained by The Chronicles, prepared by the ADEPR lawyers, paints a scheme involving Mutangana and his deputy to frustrate the case, yet they were actually supposed to fight to recover the billions.
Prosecutor General Jean Bosco Mutangana and his deputy Agnes Mukagashugi, at different times appointed prosecutors for the case, only to withdraw them just before the case was scheduled to reopen.
As a result, the new prosecutor found they are unable to deal with the huge case. Then the case waited for months. The constant changes of prosecutors is what caused the collapse of the original trial leading to the acquittal of the 10 key suspects.
The original prosecutor was Biraboneye Prudence. He was replaced with Nkubito Emmanuel during the progress of the trial in the lower court. What shocked the ADEPR legal team is that Nkubito filed an application with the court seeking to withdraw the charges.
“Instead of prosecuting the suspects, he was pleading on behalf of the suspects removing charges on them which led to their acquittal,” said one of the ADEPR lawyers in an interview in September.
ADEPR wrote to the Prosecutor General Mutangana demanding that Nkubito be withdrawn from the case, but no action was taken.
The case was concluded, and 10 most senior ADEPR suspects walked free, but ordinary employees were found guilty.
The appeals dossier was handed to a new state prosecutor Habarurema Jean Pierre. He spent weeks preparing for the appeal.
As for the ADEPR lawyers, one of their grounds of Appeal is that they wanted the first case to have been handled by a panel of judges, not a single judge as was done in the first trial.
Two days to the start of Appeals hearing on September 6, 2019, prosecutor Habarurema was withdrawn and the file transferred to a new prosecutor Rudatinya Gaspard. The ADEPR lawyers managed to convince the Appeals panel for an extension to September 13.
The case did eventually open, and the Court of Appeal ordered for the comprehensive audit of financial books of ADEPR. The audit is to establish the facts about the money allegedly stolen, DOVE Hotel and the bank loan. It will also review all the finances.
Meanwhile, the deputy prosecutor general Agnes Mukagashugi, who was accused of mishandling the ADEPR file with her boss, was also fired in the Thursday cabinet meeting. She has been replaced by Habyarimana Angélique.
The Chronicles contacted Mutangana in September to respond to the allegations but he declined, arguing that he could not discuss a case before a court of law.