Rwandan court denies opposition leader bail

AP News
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Posted: Oct 26, 2010 1:25 PM
Rwandan court denies opposition leader bail

A Rwandan court on Tuesday denied bail to the country's most prominent opposition leader who had been charged a day earlier with forming a terrorist organization.

The ruling comes months after Victoire Ingabire was barred from challenging President Paul Kagame in August polls because she was facing charges of genocide ideology at the time.

Human rights groups have accused the Rwandan government of using terrorist allegations to stifle opposition in the country, where the campaign leading up to the August vote was marred by a series of attacks on outspoken government critics. Rwanda's government has denied any involvement.

The court ruled on Tuesday that Ingabire will be detained for 30 days because she may continue doing what she has been charged with or interfere with investigations. Ingabire said she will appeal the decision.

Ingabire's political supporters issued a statement from Brussels condemning the court's decision and demanding her release.

"It is a political decision, and not justice," said the Support Committee for FDU-Inkingi, Ingabire's party.

On Monday, Ingabire was charged, together with Vital Uwumuremyi, with forming a terrorist organization. Police claimed earlier this month when they arrested Ingabire that the organization she was allegedly forming, the Coalition of Democratic Forces, is the military wing of her political party.

Ingabire returned to Rwanda in January after 16 years to challenge Kagame who was re-elected in August elections. In April she was charged with genocide ideology after she stated publicly that crimes committed during the 1994 Rwandan genocide against Hutu citizens should be investigated.

More than 500,000 Rwandans, mostly ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus, were slaughtered in the genocide. Kagame, an ethnic Tutsi, has tried to downplay the role of ethnicity, and people in the country rarely refer to themselves as Hutu or Tutsi and can face charges for speaking publicly about ethnicity.

Before her most recent arrest on Oct. 14, Ingabire had been ordered by court to remain in the capital, Kigali and her passport seized.