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Rwanda opposition leader must be allowed appeal after unfair trial: AI

Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] urged Monday that Rwandan opposition leader Victoire Ingabire [JURIST news archive] be allowed an appeal [AI press release] in line with international standards after being convicted and sentenced to eight years imprisonment for denying the 1994 Rwanda genocide [JURIST news archive]. According to AI's report [text, PDF], Ingabire, president of the United Democratic Forces (FDU-Inkingi) [party website], was treated unfairly during her original trial—her presumption of innocence was compromised by official statements made by Rwandan authorities, evidence proffered by the defense was challenged by the court while the plaintiff's evidence was left unquestioned, and the charges against her were based on vague, imprecise freedom of speech laws. AI also reported that the terrorism charge under which she was arrested was based on confessions made during the unlawful detention and torture of co-accused defendants Tharcisse Nditurende and Noel Habiyaremye. According to AI:

Victoire Ingabire's first instance trial raised various fair trial concerns. The case has been appealed to the Supreme Court and it is essential that there is now strict compliance with international fair trial standards. ... The Rwandan authorities have a responsibility to ensure that Victoire Ingabire's appeal trial meets standards under Rwandan and international law.
Ingabire's appeal was set to begin Monday.

Ingabire's trial was the longest in Rwandan history. She was first arrested [JURIST report] in April 2010 for denying the 1994 genocide in which 800,000 people, mostly Tutsis, were killed. In October 2010 she was arrested [JURIST report] under terrorism charges after evidence was discovered of her involvement with a Hutu militia group. Last April Ingabire's trial continued [JURIST report] despite her refusal to attend the proceedings. In October she was acquitted [JURIST report] of the terrorism charges but sentenced to eight years for minimizing the genocide.

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