2 Rwandan army officers deny charges of public incitement

AP News
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Posted: Jan 27, 2015 1:17 PM

KIGALI, Rwanda (AP) — Two officers in Rwanda's military Tuesday pleaded not guilty to charges of inciting insurrection against the government.

Brig. Gen. Frank Rusagara and Col. Tom Byabagamba, who were arrested in August 2014, appeared before a military tribunal in Kigali to answer charges of inciting insurrection among citizens, engaging in activities aimed at tarnishing the name of the country, its leadership and illegal possession firearms.

Byabagamba, once the commander of the elite presidential security force, is a brother to the prominent Rwandan exile and presidential critic, David Himbara. Rusagara retired from the army in 2013 and is brother in-law to Himbara and Byabagamba.

Many senior army officers have fallen out with President Paul Kagame, with some fleeing into exile because they believed their lives had been threatened.

Details of how the crimes were committed were not given Tuesday. Rusagara's lawyer argued that some additional charges had not yet been read by his client.

Rusagara's driver, Sgt. (Rtd) Francois Kabayiza, is accused of being an accomplice of the alleged crimes. He said he has been tortured in detention. Looking frail and coughing incessantly, Kabayiza said that he needs time to seek treatment, forcing the court to adjourn the trial to Feb. 23.

Rusagara retired from the army in 2013 after serving in different high ranking positions. His last posting was as military attache in the U.K. ending in 2013. He is accused of making statements against the president.

President Kagame is credited for transforming Rwanda from a country in shambles after 1994 Genocide which claimed more than 800, 000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus into a model economy. His critics, however, say his authoritarian style of rule has seen most of his political and military opponents jailed, in exile or killed.