In Summary
  • Diane, a prominent government critic, is charged with inciting insurrection and forgery.

Rwanda prosecutors on Wednesday requested the High Court in Kigali to hand both Diane Shima Rwigara and her mother Adeline Mukangemana 22-year prison sentences for, among other charges, inciting insurrection.

The trial resumed a month after the two women were released on bail having spent more than a year in jail.

At the seven-hour hearing, the state attorneys focused on contents of audio and video clips as well as documents confiscated from their home and office last September when they were arrested.

The prosecution said the evidence produced in court pointed to their intention to foment insurrection against the government.

Ms Rwigara, a prominent government critic, is also charged with forgery of electoral documents that saw her disqualified from the presidential race in 2017.

"We request that Diane Rwigara be imprisoned for 15 years for inciting insurrection and seven years for forging documents," prosecutors told the High Court.

But the 37-year-old denied the forgery claims saying they were accusations meant to derail her from challenging President Paul Kagame in the elections.

She also defiantly told the court that she stood by her remarks about the government's human rights violations and that they reflected her political journey. She said she was calling on Rwandans to "resist fear and speak for our country".

“When I say that people are being forcefully driven away from their land, I have evidence including articles published by local media. When I mention poverty or lack of access to water and electricity, there are global reports by World Bank and others confirming that,” she told the three-judge bench.

“When I talk about killings and disappearances, there are reports by rights groups,” she said, adding that the charges against her were fabricated.

Her lawyer Pierre Celestin Buhuru told the court that Ms Rwigara had exercised her constitutional right to freedom of expression and wanted to contribute positively to the national discourse, adding that a person should not be held against his or her views.

Mr Buhuru added that allegations against her were only meant to force her out of the presidential race.

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