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By Robert Mugabe
Kigali-Reporters Without Borders condemns the arrests of three journalists in the space of a week in Kigali. Two were released the following two days but the third one is still detained.
“This series of arrests has again highlighted the extreme vulnerability of journalists in Rwanda,” Reporters Without Borders said without giving details on each case.
Jean Gualbert Burasa: who is reported to have been arrested for drunk driving on November11and November 15 was found drinking while driving and insulting police officers on duty, justice fined him RWF 180,000 which was released after paying the amount.
“My case has nothing to do with media; I was caught by traffic police driving while I was drunk during the weekend. It’s not me only; you can see my friends here including this Kenyan who was caught packed in the middle of the road. For him was brought in my cell like a dead man, for he was too drunk to speak” Burasa stated.
Burasa, the publisher of Rushyashya, is a free man in Kigali. However, when Great Lakes Voice, visited this editor at the offices of Gasabo district prosecution department, police chief investigator, Chief Inspector Eric Kanyabuganza,was also there questioning Burasa on the story about Nyatanyi story.
But reports aired on different radios refuted the reports saying that her grave was intact-as constructed.
According to police, admitted to have committed editorial mistakes and accepted to run erratum. It should be understood beyond doubt that, Burasa was on custody for breaching traffic rules not about the article published as RWB insinuates.
The other is Rene Anthere Rwanyange: arrested since mid November for allegations of stealing a Mac laptop. But he is yet to be charged in court.
Prosecution spokesperson, Allain Mukuralinda, told Great Lakes Voice that Rwanyange is a prime suspect of theft.
“He is accused by his colleagues to have stolen the computer, and we are bringing him to court, to see if there is allot of evidences pinning him” Mukuralinda said. However, prosecution need to explain why there was a need to violate articles 93 and 94 of code of criminal procedure that suggests the arrest after compiling evidences.
RWB was requesting the government to explain the arrests of New Times Editor in Chief, Joseph Bideri: who was arrested, as reported, on November 14 and was freed on November 15. In the mornings following the articles published about Rukarara hydro-electric dam in the west of the country.
Early morning November 14, 2011 He was called by police boss IGP Emanuel Gasana to come to his offices to talk about Rukarara issue as a witness, as Bideri was preparing to meet police boss, here comes the second call from CID boss Christopher Bizimungu requesting to come and meet him at CID headquarters Kacyiru about $15million hydro-electric dam of Rukarara.
Rukarara controversy appeared in the papers following the Parliament committee assigned to probe rukarara citing the gaps in the implementation of the contracts of constructing the electricity dam.
The dam is arranged to be under performance in terms of delivering the expected energy capacity.
When Bizimungu questioned Bideri, apparently he did not find anything worthy investigating, so Bideri was told to go his way as he was leaving, the police boss again called him on his phone and ordered to see him in his office.
When Bideri reached in Gasana’s office, he was told to go and see CID boss again…it’s by then when Bideri apparently sensed some danger.
“We did not arrest him. And I don’t think that I know Bideri’s case with police,” Theos Badege, the police spokesperson had told the media hower, the police publicity had told the media that Bideri was arrested and being questioned.
When The New Times boss, Bideri reached in the CID’s office, a police officer was summoned to question Bideri again, Inspector of Police (IP) Jacques Ngarukiye carried out the questioning endlessly until Bideri complained of blood pressure.
The police officer at CID head quarters, who preferred his names not mentioned because he doesn’t speak for the Rwanda Police, intimated to Great Lakes that, “when Bideri wanted to leave he was ordered to remain where he is. When he complained of blood pressure, the police doctor was brought in to verify if the claim is true, and evidently the man was sick.”
According to this source, Bideri was rushed to King Faysal Hospital where he spent a night guarded by two police officers.
“I saw New Times MD, escorted by police to the room at the sick bed where he is admitted. Doctor told me he has pressure crisis,” the hospital nurse said adding that the police officer told Bideri to go home the following day.
Highly placed sources at the RPF headquarters said, Bideri complained to the party leadership about his situation with Rwanda police.
“IGP was called with Bideri by the party officials to try to bring them to the same understanding but the committee that was to take a reconciliatory responsibility also became divided thus reaching no concrete solution,” The source said.
Some experts believe Bideri became a victim of press. But others suggest that he was a victim of the wrangles in RPF circles.
Whatever way its, more evidence suggest that Bideri tribulations was a result of articles published in the paper he manage.
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