Both academic-turned-politician Dr Kayumba Christopher and university lecturer-turned-YouTuber Aimable Karasira appeared this Friday in court for their separate cases.
Dr Kayumba was arrested in September last year, on allegations of rape and attempted rape. The charges came after he had earlier in March launched a political party Rwandese Platform for Democracy (RPD). Kayumba says the charges are politically motivated.
He has appeared in different courts since then, seeking bail, which has been denied.
While the previous lower courts ruled that his rape case proceed, he appeared today in Nyarugenge Intermediate Court to continue seeking for bail.
Surprisingly, the three-man bench had ruled several weeks ago that Kayumba’s case will be conducted at the Mageragere prison where he is detained. However, to the surprise of his lawyer and journalists, they were informed the session would take place at court premises in Nyamirambo today morning.
The session opened at 9:40am. Wearing the yellow prison uniform, Kayumba was with his lawyer plus a few reporters. No one was allowed to take pictures or stand up, like reporters would normally do.
The bench began by asking which of the issues would be handled; the bail appeal application or continue with substantive case.
Kayumba prayed to the court to handle his bail appeal. He said there were serious grounds that warrant the court releases him.
One, he said, his constitutional rights are being violated by the manner in which he has been held in Mageragere prison. Kayumba said he is separated from other prisoners, yet 3,000 other people with same charges as him, are not also in isolation.
He said the reason he is not in main prison like others with similar cases of rape, is because his charges are political, emanating from the political party.
The other aspect about his isolated detention, says Kayumba, is that when he arrived there he was held together with one other inmate, who was later moved. Kayumba says currently, he is in same cell area with Aimable Karasira and two other inmates.
Kayumba told the bench that this isolated detention violates the constitution and his constitutional rights. It is from this that Kayumba would want the court to rule on and release him.
Kayumba said if given bail, he would not go anywhere as he was determined to clear his name on fabricated rape charges.
When given time to respond, prosecution represented by two prosecutors, said Kayumba is held in a legally gazetted prison, and that it doesn’t matter which part of it he is kept.
Prosecution said they are ready for start of the substantive case, as the bail issue had been handled by the lower courts.
After hearing both sides, the bench indicated that they would make a ruling on the way forward on November 25.
Kayumba is the co-founder of The Chronicles and was a renowned media academic and researcher. He had taught at University of Rwanda journalism school since 2003.
Meanwhile, in a different court, Kayumba’s cell-mate Aimable Karasira was also hearing progress on his case.
Karasira, a former computer science lecturer at University of Rwanda (UR), was arrested in May last year. The state accuses him of genocide denial, yet he is a genocide survivor, among other charges.
He is also charged with spreading rumors and elicit enrichment. However, ever since his arrest, has been to court on several occasions over different things raised by him or prosecution.
The charges were derived from comments he made over many months on his YouTube channel “Ukuri Mbona”. In one of the video posts, Aimable Karasira claims his family, who had survived being killed by the interahamwe genocide militia, were instead later killed by the RPF rebels.
Appearing today, the separate Nyarugenge Intermediate Court was to rule on bail appeal and whether to grant Karasira bail appeal or rule to start hearing his full case.
The court instead ruled that it lacked jurisdiction on the case, and that it can only be handled by the High Court Chamber for International and Cross Border Crimes, located in Nyanza District, southern Rwanda.
However, this decision of the single judge was a surprise to Karasira and his lawyer, seasoned criminal attorney Gatera Gashabana. The lawyer said he would submit written grounds opposing decision of the court to strip itself of jurisdiction over the case.
Gashabana said he will put his arguments in the online system where court and prosecution can access it.
The judge then responded that he would make a ruling following Gashabana’s submissions, on November 25.
It is the same day that Kayumba will hear whether to get bail or wait in jail for start of his trial on rape.