Critic of Rwandan president cleared of insurrection and forgery


A prominent government critic and her mother have been acquitted by Rwanda's high court of politically motivated charges including inciting insurrection and forging documents.

Activists Diane Rwigara and her mother Adeline have been acquitted of all charges brought against them.

She would later be denied a chance to run in the presidential race before being arrested over a year ago.

The court also said Rwigara's criticism of the government in the press was an exercise of her freedom of expression, guaranteed by both the constitution and worldwide law. "The court finds that the prosecution's charges were baseless", said presiding judge Xavier Ndahayo.

Victoire and DianeDiane Rwigara is the daughter of a businessman and pivotal member of the ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front, Assinapol Rwigara.

The court ruled Adeline was merely exercising her right to freedom of speech in a private manner.

Since her arrest, Rwigara's brothers and sister have been interrogated, family assets were forcibly auctioned off to pay off a multimillion-dollar tax claim and a hotel they owned was demolished for allegedly failing to abide by city guidelines.

Rwigara remained defiant despite facing a 22-year jail sentence and maintain she will vociferously champion human rights being trampled by Kagame.

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She was not allowed to run and Kagame won a third term with 99% of the vote in the August 2017 elections.

Ms Rwigara, who is described as "fearless" by those close to her, is not about to apologise for attempting to hold Rwanda's leaders to account.

"I am very happy with the verdict", said Ms Rwigara, who has been out on bail since October.

Some Rwandans in the capital, Kigali, said they were shocked by the court's decision.

Kagame has won worldwide praise for presiding over a peaceful and rapid economic recovery in Rwanda since the genocide that killed an estimated 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus.

Criticism of the government is rarely tolerated and in 2015, he engineered a constitutional amendment which means he can hold the presidency until 2034.

"We call on the Rwandan authorities to build on this judgment and work towards developing greater tolerance and acceptance of alternative and critical views".

Rwanda regularly comes under fire from human rights groups for curbs on freedom of expression, extrajudicial killings, and lack of political freedom.