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Diane Rwigara: Rwanda: Government critic acquitted



  Diane Rwigara (front L), a critic of the Rwandan president, reacts when she leaves the Kigali Supreme Court.

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AFP / Getty

Caption

Caption


Diane Rwigara is a prominent critic of Rwanda's President Paul Kagame

A Rwandan court in the capital Kigali has acquitted the government critic Diane Rwigara and her mother for incitement to riot and forgery.

Ms. Rwigara has been detained for over a year after being unable to compete in the presidential election. Long-time incumbent Paul Kagame.

The 37-year-old opposition leader was faced with "groundless" jail terms of up to 22 years on charges she deemed politically motivated.

Amnesty International welcomed the result, but said that the mother and daughter "never had to face charges of expression".

Since her arrest, Ms. Rwigara's family has been interrogated and foreclosed on her family fortune.

"I'm very pleased with the verdict," said Ms. Rwigara, who has been on bail since October. "I'm continuing my political journey … because there is still a lot to do in our country."

During the hearings, the businesswoman claimed that Rwanda's economy was controlled mainly by the ruling elite. [1

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dissent is not tolerated

Anne Soy, correspondent for the BBC Africa

The acquittal of Diane Rwigara and her mother Adeline was seen significant step in Rwanda's democracy. [Butit'salsohardtoignorethattherewasinternationalpressureincludingtheUSCongresstodropchargesagainstthem-notthattheRwandanauthoritieshaveahabitofhearingoutsidevoices

Critics see that Arrest and imprisonment of Mrs Rwigara and the auctioning of her assets as a continuation of the intimidation attempt anyone who opposes the government. And there is a long list of dissidents who have been severely punished.

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AFP / Getty

Caption

Ms. Rwigara and her mother Adeline, released on bail after release

Opposition leader Victoire Ingabire was released from prison this year after spending time on "Conspiracy against the country through terrorism and war" and "genocide denial." She had intended – just like Mrs Rwigara – to compete as President against Paul Kagame in 2010.

Another opposition leader, Boniface Twagirimana, was released from prison in October. His whereabouts are unknown.

Ms. Ingabire was released in September under the prerogative of the President of Mercy, which could be interpreted as a painting of Mr. Kagame as a benevolent leader.

However, the underlying message remains that dissent can not be tolerated.

In the decision of Thursday, the Supreme Judges said that the prosecution had not proved that Mrs. Rwigara personally forged the signatures of supporters press conferences were protected by the freedom of expression both in the constitution and in international law.

They also advocated freedom of speech to protect the Whatsapp voice notes that Adeline Rwigara sent privately to relatives who accused the state of fear-ruling.


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