The government of President Paul Kagame has lashed out to what it termed “external actors’ meddling” in the case of former female presidential candidate, Diane Shima Rwigara and her mother, Adeline Rwigara.
A government critic, Diane and her mother were on Thursday acquitted by High Court sitting in the capital Kigali on charges of forgery, inciting insurrection and promoting sectarianism.
Court ruled that the evidence including WhatsApp recordings presented by prosecution could not help establish crime, hence setting the two women free.
Government accepts defeat
In a statement, the Minister of Justice and Attorney General said: “The Government respects the court’s verdict on the case of Diane Rwigara and Adeline Rwigara and will carefully study its implications.”
The statement added: “We condemn all attempts by external actors to inappropriately influence judicial processes in Rwanda.”
The ministry promised to continue to vigorously enforce Rwandan laws on electoral integrity, public safety, and respect for the judiciary.
The “external actors” being referred to are U.S. congressional lawmakers who pressed Rwanda’s government against incarcerating dissident politician.
The Rwigaras were facing up to 22 years in prison after being convicted of inciting insurrection and forgery.
They had been detained by police in October 2017 and jailed for a year but released on bail last month, prior to trial.
They remain at home in Kigali, the capital city, under travel restrictions.
“Peaceful political expression is not a crime. Running for office is not a crime,” the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission — a bipartisan congressional caucus named for its co-founder — said in a tweet.
For all intents and purposes, Diane was witch hunted for daring stand against President Kagame in the last presidential election.
She was disqualified unfairly by the electoral commission on allegations of forging signatures from voters.
Her family business was also seized for alleged tax evasion but the reasons were more political than economic.