By Norman S. Miwambo
Andre Kagwa Rwisereka’s assassination a month before Rwanda’s general elections trembled Rwanda’s politics as nothing had ever been done before since the 1994 Genocide. Rwisereka a father to Jean Luc Rwisereka Jr was assassinated in a horrific manner in the run-up to last August’s general elections, generally viewed as disgraced elections which saw President Paul Kagame retaining the office with 93 per cent.
For good reasons; even the trial of Thomas Ntivuguruza, the only suspected individual in the assassination of the vice president of Rwanda’s Green Party, did not take place. The motive is yet to be revealed, a thing that has sent a chilling message to Rwanda’s political oppositions.
Whilst neither the Rwandan police nor the country’s prosecution have managed to find the killers of Rwisereka, one of the country’s political opposition leaders, the late Rwisereka’s son, Canada-based Jean Luc Havugwa Rwisereka Jr -laid groundwork for the family to demand an independent United Nations investigations.
Rwisereka’s body was discovered nearly decapitated and dumped at southern border town of Butare, roughly 35 miles from Rwandan capital-Kigali last July. Rwanda’s opposition parties under the Coalition of Democratic Forces (CDF) and Rwisereka Junior in particular, blamed the government for being reluctant in instigating an independent investigation. They accused the Rwandan government for not setting up such an independent investigation into the assassination of Mr Rwisereka.
In an exclusive interview with Str8talk Chronicle, Rwisereka decided to petition the UN Secretary General, he said: “The Government of Rwanda has never said anything to my family.” “After we made public the letter we sent to UN, they obviously reacted to it by stating that an investigation is still going on and this was on BBC radio,” Rwisereka, the eldest son of the late Green party deputy leader said, adding: “The said if we or any friends have any information to assist with the investigation, we should come forward with it.”
He went on to say he was not sure of the exact date when this individual was released but thought this would have been between late September and early October 2010. “Before writing to the UN Secretary General, we decided to let the government of Rwanda do its investigation,” Rwisereka Jr told this reporter, adding that; “we were hoping the would inform us of their findings.”
He added: “You know, after seeing what they did to my father, almost everybody in our family didn’t want to complain to anybody inside Rwanda for fear that whoever it was, they would come back for them. I decided to write to the UN because the Rwandan police kept on coming up with excuses as to why he was killed,” Jean-Luc said.
He explained that: “Sometimes they said he had shoddy business deals inside and outside Rwanda. At other times, they claimed he was killed while trying to flee the country or that it was a robbery.” “And all this was being said in public by government officials in Rwanda,” he said, adding that: “ Besides that, it was a personal promise to my father that if anything was to ever happen to him I would make sure whoever did it would be prosecuted. I always talked to him, we exchanged a lot about the situation in the country,” said Jean Luc, adding: “I let him know that I was afraid for his personal safety.”
He further said: “Put all of that together, I just requested for help from UN because I could not accuse some individuals in the Rwandan Government to be behind his assassination and expect a fair investigation from them.” In its initial statement soon after the horrific assassination of Rwisereka, Rwandan authorities had said it had arrested Thomas Ntivuguruza as a prime suspect. Army spokesperson Mr Eric Kayiranga then told this reporter that: “They [Rwisereka and Ntivuguruza] were drinking together and they had a quarrel on the night because of illegal business. Ntivuguruza, is the only man who saw him that night, so, is the person related to the murder.”
In a telephone interview with Str8talk Chronicle, Rwanda’s police spokesman, Kayiranga, said that Ntivuguruza was arrested because he was the only man who could have provided information related to the murder of Mr Rwisereka. “He was the only man who could provide information related to the late [Rwisereka] because they had spent the night together. They shared a business,” Kayiranga told us. When asked if there were some other arrests in connection with the murder, the police spokesman who confirmed familiarity about the letter sent to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said: “Yes. We heard about that. I knew and I saw the letter. But it is not the answer to the problem. If the family has evidence, let them come and cooperate with us. And we will arrest whoever is implicated in this case,” Kayiranga said.
He added: “The man who he left at very late hours, the only person who could bring some light in the circumstances surrounding this. He was a suspect not convicted.” Kayiranga’s statement contradicts his earlier comments to this reporter just after the initial arrest. Kayiranga also then told this reporter that; “Thomas has been working together with the diseased in an illegal money game and as money lenders.”
This time the police spokesman said that: “It is true he had some quarrels with some people in the same business, he is the man who could travel to Bukavu (DR Congo) with some minerals and he had some misunderstandings with the previous owner of the his bar.”
However, none has been interrogated and another member familiar with the matter who accepted to talk to us if not named for fear of reprisal said: “It wrong to say that Mr Rwisereka was a business partner with a suspect.” “The suspect had stayed at the hotel for two days. In fact he must have been spying on him and on the night, there is a general credence that he was sent to monitor the movements of Rwisereka and send communication to the assailants,” a source told this reporter. In what sounded as another contradictory statement, lack of evidence was given as reason for the release of Ntivuguruza, yet the police spokesman told this reporter: “For us, the police took him to the prosecution with the file and the evidence. I can’t tell the detail. The prosecution will tell you about the man who was brought to them.”
“I can’t give you the details; the prosecution will tell you about the man who was brought to them,” said Kayiranga. He added: “They will tell you whether he was innocent or not.” Kayiranga, however denied accusations that the police had no interest in investigating the murder. Defending his forces, Kayiranga said: “It is not right. Investigations were made on the spot and all efforts were used to make sure that at least we got someone who knew better than anyone else how this man died. “Of course that man who was arrested was just forwarded to the prosecution within 72 hours,” he said
Kayiranga said that the arrested suspect was very useful for further investigations. “Really for us, we don’t convict people. We don’t take people to the court,” Remember that the police do pre-investigations and then can be completed by the prosecutor.” He explained that; “the role of police was done really; the rest was for the prosecution not for the police. But once you have the suspect, you take the suspect to the prosecutor and they prosecute. And the prosecutor is the one to decide if to take the suspect to court or not,” he added.
Minutes after the arrest of Ntivuguruza in July this year, the same police spokesman told this reporter that this man [Ntivuguruza] was arrested because they were drinking with Mr Rwisereka and a quarrel ensued on the night because of illegal business they previously conducted together.
Ntivuguruza is now a free man after being released for lack of evidence to incriminate him, according to National Public prosecutor-spokesman Augustine Nkusi. Speaking to this newspaper, Nkusi said there was no evidence.” He has been released because the evidence was not enough to keep him as a suspect,” Mr Nkusi told this reporter, but he couldn’t remember when exactly the suspect was released. Since then Ntivuguruza’s release, no more arrests for the murder of a high profile opposition leader have been carried out.