Aime Ernest Mbarushimana new suspect during his introduction to the court on October 19. He was arrested later than all his counterparts . / Dan Nsengiyumva
By Hudson Kuteesa
The Military High Court, on Tuesday, October 19 postponed the trial of 38 persons belonging to RUD-Urunana and P5 militias.
The suspects are being trialled over conducting the deadly attacks that claimed 15 lives and left 14 injured on the night of October 5, 2019, in Kinigi, Musanze.
The trial will resume on November 23-25.
The postponement is due to the fact that a new suspect, Aimé Ernest Mbarushimana, has been introduced into the trial, and he is yet to get a lawyer.
According to prosecution, Mbarushimana was arrested later than all his counterparts, and that is why he was not part of the earlier stages of the trial.
Information from his file shows that he belongs to the P5 militia, and in October 2019, he was one of the people that were sent to Rwanda to make the attacks, but he didn’t manage to make it as his particular group was intercepted on the way by the FARDC – DR Congo’s national army.
After FARDC’s assault against them, Mbarushimana fled and eventually entered Uganda, where he spent some time. He, later on, came to be apprehended and brought to face the law.
So far, The New Times does not have more details concerning how he was arrested.
Standing before a three-judge bench that’s handling the case, Mbarushimana said he was ready to enter plea, but noted that he does not have a lawyer.
Here, the judges asked the prosecutors and the defence lawyers what they think about the case, giving them two options: putting the trial on hold, waiting for Mbarushimana to get a lawyer, or continuing to try the rest of the suspects and then deal with him later.
Before the introduction of Mbarushimana, the trial was at an advanced stage where the prosecutors had to give their final submissions, to which the defendants would react, and then the court would give its verdict.
In regard to Mbarushimana, Lieven Kayihura, one of the prosecutors, told court the trial should not proceed before he has pleaded, since there is some important information that he may share with the court.
“So, it is better that we wait and hear from him and learn what he has to say about the other suspects and what they will also say about him,” he said.
Marie Louise Mukashema, a lawyer of the victims of the attacks who are seeking compensation also agreed with the prosecutors.
One of the defence lawyers challenged the postponement of the trial, saying that it delays the delivery of justice.
The judges resolved that it is within the interest of having due process that the trial should be postponed, and then continued after a period of at least three weeks when Mbarushimana has found a lawyer and gets tried along with his counterparts, before the process winds-up.
According to the judges, they expect that during the next trial that will last for three days (November 23, 24, 25), the case will be wound up and the verdicts will be given.