Justice decision to seize properties of alleged coup plotters arouses controversy

Politicians’ opinions diverge on the decision made by Burundi Justice to seize properties of Burundians allegedly involved in the 2015 failed coup.

Léonce Ngendakumana “The decision is more political than judicial,”

In a statement jointly issued on Wednesday May 15, the Attorney General of the Republic and the President of the Supreme Court have decided to seize real estate of 42 Burundians accused of being involved in the13 May 2015 failed coup.
Léonce Ngendakumana, Deputy Chairman of Sahwanya Frodebu opposition party believes that this decision is politically motivated. “The decision is more political than judicial,” he says adding that the decision had been announced behind the scenes for a long time.

“The Minister of Justice had announced that the properties of people prosecuted for staging the 2015 failed coup will be seized and sold,” said Ngendakumana. For him, the judgment of these alleged coup plotters hanot yet been rendered. ”How can one execute a judgment which has not yet been rendered?” he wonders

The deputy chairman of Sahwanya Frodebu party says the decision to seize properties of the alleged coup plotters violates the family protection principle. “The wives and children of the alleged coup leaders will be victims of the crimes they have not committed,” he says adding that the punishment must be individual.

According to Léonce Ngendakumana, the court’s decision will create an unhealthy atmosphere among the population while Burundi is approaching the 2020 elections. He warns people who will buy those goods and buildings that they will lose their money.
“They will have to hand over these properties sooner or later.” Mr Ngendakumana describes the decision as arbitrary. This member of the opposition party says that similar arbitrary judgments were rendered in 1972.
He wonders why the same mistake is made again and why Burundian leaders do not draw moral lessons from the past.

Kefa Nibizi, chairman of Frodebu Nyakuri Iragi rya Ndadaye advocates for the respect for the justice decision. “We cannot interfere in a decision made by competent judicial bodies,” says Nibizi. For him, the people concerned by this decision have the latitude to file an appeal against it in the competent courts.

Mr Nibizi believes that the decision of the court to seize properties of 42 people accused of participating in the 2015 failed coup will have no impact on the preparation of inclusive elections in 2020.
He explains that the Burundian penal code has a provision prohibiting certain people from voting and being elected because of the crimes they have committed. “The preparation of the elections cannot prevent justice from doing its job,” he concludes.