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Rwandan court grants bail to Rwigara 20 days after Ingabire was freed

KIGALI | The High Court in Kigali has ordered the release on bail of Diane Rwigara and her mother Adeline Rwagira, ending a year of incarceration for the mother and daughter.

The judge in delivering the verdict said the two women had to be released immediately but cannot leave Kigali without permission and they will have to submit their travel documents to Rwandan Prosecution.

However, the two women did not leave the courtroom immediately as prisons authorities whisked them away amid raucous celebrations from relatives and friends who gathered at the High Court in Kimihurura on Friday.

The release of the Rwigaras comes 20 days after President Paul Kagame commuted the sentence for opposition leader Victoire Ingabire, who was serving 15 years in jail.

Kagame freed 2,140 convicts on September 15, creating the impression that the Rwanda leader in his third and what he says is last term of office is relaxing his hitherto stiff political collar.

Diane is facing charges of forgery related to her unsuccessful bid for the presidency in 2017 in which she was disqualified. It is alleged that Diane presented signatures of at least three deceased persons on her nomination form as she chased the deadline to be on the ballot against President Paul Kagame.

She also faces insurrection charges along with her mother who is also accused of promoting sectarianism.

The prosecution on Tuesday told the court that the two would be a flight risk and could skip bail if released. The prosecutors also argued that they could interfere with investigations.

However, after the judge ordered their release, prosecution conceded but said it was looking into next course of action.

“For the granted bail of the two suspects, the Prosecution had strong reasons to oppose it and still believes so. but we respect laws and decisions of courts. We will consider to whether challenge it or not. We will continue to prepare our trial in substance,” the Rwanda Prosecution tweeted.

The Rwanda Revenue Authority on Wednesday sold off stock owned by the Rwigara family’s tobacco factory as another of the ways to recover over $6.9 million it says it is owed in taxes.

In March and June auctions of machinery, equipment and stock belonging to the Premier Tobacco Company, the RRA raised over $2.5 million.

Diane is a renowned women’s activist in Rwanda and her family says their problems began with her decision to contest the presidency.

Her bid was unsuccessful when she was disqualified after investigators alleged Ms Rwigara had committed an electoral offence by collecting forged signatures to endorse her candidacy.

She denied the allegation, saying that she met all the requirements to run.

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