By Maniraguha Ferdinand
Kigali based military court has on this Tuesday, 21st July 2020 started to hear the case of Colonel Tom Byabagamba, former presidential guard commander on charges of theft.
Byabagamba was brought to court in military prisoners uniform, different from military attire he used to wear in past hearings.
A judge read the identity of the suspect and asked him if he agrees with theft charges that were brought against him. The defendant denied categorically any wrongdoing.
The court later decided to postpone the hearing on the fact that Byabagamba’s lawyers were not present while it is in his rights to be defended in court.
Col Tom Byabagamba was arrested on August 24, 2014. On 27 December 2019, the Court of Appeal sentenced him to an imprisonment of 15 years and stripping off his military ranks.
He was found guilty of inciting insurrection or trouble amongst the population; tarnishing, as a leader, the image of the country or Government; wilfully concealing objects that would facilitate the execution of a crime; and contempt of the national flag.
In April this year, Rwanda Defence Force said that Col Byabagamba is suspected of additional criminal activities related to attempt to commit corruption and attempt to escape from a prison.
Byabagamba, who once headed the Republican Guards has recently appealed to the East African Court of Justice (EACJ) seeking to challenge his continued detention which he says is ‘illegal’.
His appeal is yet to be ruled out by the East African Court of Justice.