By Edwin Ashimwe
Retired Major Habib Mudhatiru before the Military High Court .Photo by Craish Bahizi
Retired Major Habib Mudhatiru has, before the Military High Court, begged that his sentence be lessened from life-imprisonment, as requested by military prosecution.
Mudathiru alongside his 30 co-accused, was giving his final submissions at the court on Tuesday, December 8, marking the end of the terror trial of the case that began last year.
During the proceedings at the Nyarugunga-based court, Mudathiru told judges that he had pleaded guilty to three charges out of a total of five that he faces.
The charges he pleaded guilty to are; joining a criminal group, conspiracy against an established government or the President of the Republic as well as maintaining relations with a foreign government intending to wage a war.
Mudhatiru, who was the head of operations in P5, pleaded not guilty to the charge of forming a criminal group saying that he was ‘just a member who was recruited’, and not the group’s founder.
The group he is being accused of being part of is P5, which was created from a merger of different anti-Rwanda outfits which operates a military base in DR Congo.
The outfit is led by Rwandan dissident Kayumba Nyamwasa, who currently lives in South Africa.
“Those are the three charges that I plead guilty to without doubt and I also apologize for them”.
He also said that he should be absolved of the crime of committing terrorism.
Before beseeching the court for a lenient sentence, Mudhatiru thanked the government of Rwanda for the fair treatment he has been given to nurse his wounds, and also the daily medical assistance given to him to ensure that he survives from diabetes and high blood pressure.
Mudathiru was injured on the leg during combat between P5 militia and Congolese armed forces, and throughout his trial not been able to stand. He has been seen sitting through the proceedings, with clutches besides.
Addressing the presiding judge, he went on to say: “I thank the bench that you preside (over) for enabling me to stand trial freely. I commend you on that provision of freedom for plea.”
“I humbly apologize to you, I apologize to the President of the Republic and I apologize to Rwandans in general. I really apologize from the bottom of my heart.”
In addition to this, Mudhatiru said that he is still amazed by the way he was welcomed in the country even on top of all the charges he faces.
He pleaded that the court lessen his sentence, saying that if given the opportunity, he would be reassured to return to normal life.
The presiding judge, Lt. Col Bernard Rugamba Hategekimana, said court will deliver the verdict on the case January 15, 2021.
A retired officer in Rwanda Defence Force, Mudathiru said that after he was discharged from the military, he went to Uganda in 2013, where he was recruited in Kayumba’s RNC.
Earlier in the trial, it emerged that Mudathiru was assisted by Ugandan security personnel to acquire refugee status, which then allowed him to traverse freely in Uganda recruiting would-be combatants before they eventually crossed into DR Congo for combat.