Kagame Critic Diane Rwigara Acquitted - TowerPostNews

Sergio Conner
December 8, 2018

"I am extremely happy and I now have the energy and the zeal to continue my passion of fighting for freedom of expression and human rights in Rwanda", Rwigara told AFP news agency.

Since Rwigara's arrest a year ago, her brothers and sister have been interrogated, family assets have been forcibly auctioned to pay off a multi-million dollar tax claim, while a hotel the family owned was demolished for allegedly failing to abide by city guidelines.

But today, a court in Kigali dropped all the the charges against her and her mother, calling them "baseless".

On Tuesday, a commission of the US House of Representatives held a briefing on human rights and political prisoners in Rwanda, drawing attention to the Rwigaras. Rwigara's mother was also acquitted of charges of inciting insurrection and discrimination. I am continuing with my political journey. everything I talked about in the past has not been resolved.

US senators in recent days urged Rwanda's government to drop the charges against her, with Sen.

The Rwandan ministry of justice said it respected the verdict and would "carefully study its implications", though it added: "We condemn all attempts by external actors to inappropriately influence judicial processes in Rwanda".

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Ms Rwigara already spent one year in prison after being barred from running in presidential elections against the long-standing incumbent Paul Kagame.

Amnesty International welcomed the court's decision. "I thought the government was angered by Rwigara's criticism and she would be convicted", said Moses Hirwa, a mechanic.

The acquittal could be a sign of widening political space in the East African nation where rights activists say dissent is not tolerated. Soon after she announced her intention to run, nude photos purportedly of her that she said had been manipulated were published on social media in what her supporters called an effort to undermine her credibility.

A panel of three judges ruled that the prosecution failed to prove that Rwigara had personally forged signatures.

Paul Kagame, the country's towering, beanpole-like president, has been widely praised for his role in providing stability and economic growth after Rwanda's catastrophic genocide in 1994.

President Kagame won the 2017 election with over 98 per cent of the votes, securing a third term in office and extending his 17 years in power.

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