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Rwanda responds to British lawmakers

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Collins Mwia, The New Times.

The Minister of Justice Johnston Busingye has responded to a group of British Parliamentarians who wrote to the Government of Rwanda calling for the release of former military officers Col Tom Byabagamba and Rtd Brig-Gen Frank Rusagara.

In his response to their letter which was dated 4th of November, Busingye who is also the Attorney General said that in the Rwandan law, the executive does not interfere with matters of the judiciary and criminal cases.

With the cases of the two former officers currently at the Court of Appeal, the matter is sub judice, under judicial consideration and therefore prohibited from public discussion and interference elsewhere.

“Unless and until invited to do so, in accordance with the relevant laws and procedures, it would be inappropriate for the Executive to comment on any pending case, seek to influence the outcome or intervene as proposed in your letter,” Busingye’s letter addressed to Baroness D’Souza CMG read in part.

Busingye noted that the Rwanda law provides clear grounds and procedures for requesting for clemency which the two officers are entitled to.

With the request for their release by the British lawmakers citing a communication by a UN working Group on Arbitrary detention, the Attorney General said that opinions of the working group are not binding in domestic courts and judiciary systems.

The United Kingdom Government recently held the position that the UN Working Group’s opinion on ongoing cases are non-binding in the case of Assange versus The United Kingdom.

Col Tom Byabagamba’s and  Rtd Brig-Gen Frank Rusagara’s cases are currently at the Court of Appeal challenging March 2016 verdicts by the Military High Court that saw Col. Byabagamba jailed for 21 years and Rusagara for 20 years.

Byabagamba had been convicted of tarnishing the image of the State, public insurrection, illegal possession of firearms, contempt, and concealing evidence in a criminal case, while Rusagara was found guilty of instigating public insurrection and illegal possession of firearms.

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