By Edmund Kagire
Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, the leader of the yet-to-be-registered political party, FDU-Inkingi, is delaying the hearing of her own case, The New Times has learnt.
According to the High Court, Ingabire and her lawyers have failed to file their defence brief against the charges and evidence presented by the prosecution, to allow the High Court to set a date for the hearing. She was arrested in October 2010,
High Court president, Johnston Busingye, confirmed the development, noting that despite several written requests served upon her, there hasn’t been any response from her or the defence team.
“We have communicated to her in writing several times. We gave her the charge sheet and all files from prosecution containing evidence. We asked her to file her defence in February but it hasn’t happened todate,” Busingye said.
“We served her with a reminder but nothing happened. We have given her the right to defend herself and we will wait until she responds. She can as well tell us that she doesn’t want and we can proceed and set the date without her defence.”
Busingye noted that the court ensures that her fundamental rights, which include the right to defend herself, are observed.
Prosecutor General, Martin Ngoga, said the National Public Prosecution Authority (NPPA) has been ready with evidence to go into the substance of the case, but as it turns out, Ingabire herself is delaying it.
“Prosecution was ready for this trial from the day we filed the substantive case with the High Court. We indicated in the past that we had made several requests for judicial cooperation from a number of European countries,” Ngoga said.
“We got very little and slow cooperation from them. We, however, were able to obtain evidence enough to prove our case in the opinion of the Prosecution.
While we insist for cooperation from these countries that we believe has substantial incriminating evidence, we are ready for this case with or without their cooperation,” he added
Rwanda filed several legal requests to a number of European countries and the US to furnish it with evidence where Ingabire’s conducted illegal activities, particularly financing rebel outfits to cause instability in the country.
Some countries, including the Netherlands and Switzerland responded to formal requests, agreeing to provide the prosecution with additional information but many other countries are yet to submit the information requested.
“If they respond positively, the interest of justice will have been served, and if they don’t they will have failed their obligations under International law. In any event, we are ready for the case,” Ngoga said.
When contacted, Gatera Gashabana, Ingabire’s lawyer declined to discuss the matter.
“I cannot discuss the case of Madame Victoire (Ingabire) with the media,” Gashabana said before hanging up.
Ingabire is facing terrorism charges with the prosecution alleging that she was working with senior FDLR militiamen to form a military wing known as Coalition of Defence Forces (CDF) aimed at destabilising Rwanda.
She is also accused of promoting ethnic divisions, propagating the genocide ideology and trivialising the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.