Light at the end of the prison

Bujumbura’s Court of Appeal decided to release provisionally Bob Rugurika. The defense was tentatively satisfied.-By Philippe Ngendakumana, translated by Diane Uwimana

 Lawyer Lambert Nigarura: « I am satisfied with the judgment of the Court of Appeal.” ©Iwacu

Lawyer Lambert Nigarura: « I am satisfied with the judgment of the Court of Appeal.” ©Iwacu

On Wednesday, 18 February, Lambert Nigarura was at the zenith from 11:30 a.m after the judgment was announced granting bail to the RPA Director who had been imprisoned for nearly a month.

“I am satisfied with the judgment of the Court of Appeal,” said the Lawyer, Nigarura. He welcomed that the Court of Appeal dismissed the application of the prosecution (and of the executive) to conditionally release Bob Rugurika. The person claiming responsibility for the assassination of the third nun had been broadcast on air by Rugurika’s radio station, and this was the reason for the imprisonment of the RPA Director.

But after carefully reading the announcement, the lawyers face darkened. He attacked the conditions under which Bob Rugurika was allowed out of prison, by paying a deposit of BIF 15 million, an amount that it considers excessive.

The balanced favors the prosecution side

The Lawyer Nigarura is not happy with the decision of the Court of Appeal after appearing in the court five times. For him, even if the final decision is the provisional release of his client, through the motivated order reading, it is clear that the Court of Appeal took effect and cause for the prosecution.

The Lawyer Nigarura is not at all satisfied that, like the first judge, the Court of Appeal has favorably accessed to the prosecution application to judge Bob Rugurika by referring to the common law of the Penal Code.

According to him, if Bob Rugurika should be prosecuted, it should be done according to the Press Law. The latter decriminalizes the press offenses.

Lawyer Nigarura also disagreed with the evidence of guilt found by the Court of Appeal. This is where it says Bob Rugurika interviewed a criminal who stated he killed the third nun and left the criminal at large instead of reporting him to the police “even though he knew very well that the criminal was wanted.” This is also when the second judge argued that there are indications that the Director is guilty of a breach of the investigating secret.

Reactions: –By Dieudonné Hakizimana, Christian Bigirimana, Lyse Nkurunziza, translated by Diane Uwimana

Pierre Claver Mbonimpa: “A decision motivated by international pressure.”

The President of APRODH welcomed the release of the RPA Director. However, he said that the bail amount of BIF 15 million is exorbitant. He stated that the judges have taken the decision knowing that Bob Rugurika can’t possibly have that amount of money: “How many Burundians can get that money?”

However, he stated:”Those who support RPA and its director are many; we will contribute, ensuring that freedom will take precedence over anything else.” Pierre Claver Mbonimpa notes that this decision comes after strong national and international pressure, particularly the threat of the European Union regarding sanctions in Burundi.

Alexandre Niyungeko: “Nothing is freedom”

 Alexandre Niyungeko ©Iwacu

Alexandre Niyungeko ©Iwacu

The President of the Burundian Union of Journalists (UBJ) welcomes the decision of the Court of Appeal to provisionally release Bob Rugurika: “It satisfactory, even if it is the provisional release because nothing beats freedom.”

However, the president of the UBJ criticized the fact that the prosecution refused to sign the enlargement ticket to the RPA Director. Concerning the amount of BIF 15 million, Niyungeko believes that this is a huge sum, which is difficult to rise. He thanked all those who contributed to the release of Bob Rugurika. He also requested that the real criminals of the three Italian nuns are brought to justice, in order to rebuild the image of Burundi.

Bob’s mom: “If he could embrace another career!”

Bob Rugurika has just been released on bail. His mother was among the first people arrived at the Muramvya prison. She rushed to her son to share his moment. Since his imprisonment on 20 January, his mother hasn’t stopped supporting her son through his difficult moments. But she admitted that at one point, she had lost all hope when she learned of the charges against him. “But God heard our prayers and he answered us,” she said. She is grateful to the Burundian justice for demonstrating its independence. However, she asked the latter not always rush to punish someone by imprisoning but always to strive for the truth and wisdom above all else.

But the mother of Bob keeps a certain apprehension. She fears for the life of his son: “I know I have no right to tell my son what to do, though I really wish he would take a different career.”

According to her, Bob Rugurika is bold, always trying to help people, not afraid if he is telling the truth. However, she asks him to be careful and vigilant given the socio-political context that prevails in the country.