Kagame pardons former opposition leader Victoire Ingabire, Kizito Mihigo
Ingabire has been serving a 15-year jail term since 2010 when she was convicting of belittling the Genocide, allying with terror group FDLR and organising masses to rebel against the government
KIGALI | Rwandan President Paul Kagame has approved a Cabinet decision to release former opposition leader Victoire Ingabire, among more than 2,000 people serving jail terms for various convictions.
Of the 2,140 convicts set free by presidential prerogative of mercy also include musician Kizito Mihigo, who in February 2015 sentenced to 10 years in prison on own guilty plea to a litany of charges, including conspiracy to murder President Kagame and other top leaders of the country.
According to a statement released by Rwanda’s Ministry of Justice on Friday, the early release follow’s Ingabire’s recent plea for mercy in June.
The government said Kagame approved the early release of the convicts in accordance with Articles 245 and 246 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, which provides for the release on parole of a convict who has served at least one-third of a sentence of less than five years, or two-thirds of a sentence greater than five years (or at least 20 years in the case of a life sentence), provided at least one of the different conditions stipulated under the law are met.
Victoire Ingabire was the opposition leader and headed the Unified Democratic Forces (UDF) party when she returned to Rwanda in January 2010 ahead of the August 9, 2010 presidential election.
But she was arrested three months after her return and barred from standing against Kagame, who went on to sweep the polls with 93% of the vote.
Ingabire was charged with inciting the masses to revolt against the government, forming armed groups to destabilise the country, and minimising the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
She was convicted on evidence, including some furnished to Rwandan judicial authorities by the Dutch government, attesting to the fact that she was fundraising for FDLR, a terror group linked to the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, according to Rwanda’s The New Times newspaper.
Among Ingabire’s troubles included questioning why Rwanda’s official memorial to the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi did not include any Hutu.
More than a million ethnic Tutsi were killed in the 100-day pogrom in Rwanda. Although the Tutsi were the target, some moderate Hutu ended up paying with their lives during the slaughter by Interahamwe extremists.
Over the years, some of the moderates who paid for hiding or offering Tutsi fleeing from machete-wielding killers sanctuary have been rewarded by the state for their bravery and serving humanity.
Cabinet today approved the early release of 2,140 eligible convicts. Among them are Kizito Mihigo and Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, who received a Presidential commutation of the remainder of their sentences, following their most recent requests for clemency in June 2018.
The Cabinet meeting chaired by President Paul Kagame today approved the early release of 2,140 convicts found eligible under relevant provisions of law. https://t.co/QA1pEyXO49
— Government of Rwanda (@RwandaGov) September 14, 2018
In December 2013, Rwanda’s Supreme Court ruled on Ingabire’s appeal as well as the prosecution’s — the state had insisted that the lower court had been too lenient in handing her “only eight years in jail.”
The prosecution had initially requested a life sentence.
The Supreme Court upheld the conviction and increased her jail term from eight to 15 years.
The Supreme Court ruled that Ingabire should be serving a 27-year sentence for her crimes, but that the court had decided to show leniency, giving her 15 years, because her family was based in the Netherlands and that this was her first conviction.
At the time of her arrest, Ingabire had forged her political career as a critic of President Kagame.