25 suspected rebels appeared in Military Court

Twenty five (25) people suspected of working with terrorist groups mainly Rwanda National Congress (RNC) have arrived at the Military Tribunal in Nyamirambo for a pretrial hearing.

Maj (Rtd) Mudasir Habib, recently captured in fighting in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) arrived separately on clutches. He was a member of the so called Force Democratique pour La Liberation du Rwanda FDLR/RNC coalition.

The group arrived amid tight security, escorted by military police. Court first verified and completed the profiles of individuals who were mainly arrested in DR Congo where they were operating from.

Majority so far say they lived in Burundi and Uganda before they joined the RNC/FDLR Alliance. They were arrested in DRC where they were training and organizing. They were arrested in military operations and handed over to Rwanda according to available information.

Six of the suspects are foreign nationals – three Burundians, two Ugandans, and one Malawian.

Among the 25 is a Ugandan named Lubwama Sulaiman. He says he was a driver and a father of 6. Born in Masaka, Lukaya, Lubwama was arrested with the group.

After a short break that followed registration of the suspects’ identities, the Tribunal asked the suspects if they are ready for the trial. Some said they are not ready to undergo trial because they need lawyers.

Military Prosecutors then explained four charges against the suspects. The 25 will face charges including treason, forming or joining an unlawful military organization, conspiring with other countries to destabilize the peace of another country and engaging in activities aimed at destabilizing a lawfully elected government

In other words, the charges include (1) formation of an irregular armed group or joining it which is pr ovided by Art. 200 of the law determining offences and penalties and (2) Conspiracy against the established Government or the President of the Republic which is provided by art 202

They are also facing the charge of (3) Maintaining relations with a foreign government with intent to wage a war, a crime which is punishable under Art. 193.

The (4) Formation of or joining a criminal association is punishable under art. 224.

Prosecutors started with the charges of Maj (Rtd) Mudasir Habib who first had said that he was not ready to stand the trial without a lawyer but changed his mind later on.

Habid was a member of Rwanda Defense Forces (RDF) before retiring. In 2013 he traveled to Uganda, Kasese where he received a call from Maj Robert Higiro informing him that he had a message for him from Kayumba Nyamwasa.

Higiro would brief Mudasir on the activities of RNC, both the political and military wing. The suspect would later meet Higiro in Kampala and a one Rasta, a prominent Rwandan based in Uganda who would facilitate him with papers. He was thoroughly briefed about activities ahead.

Prosecutors named members of the Ugandan military working under the Chieftancy of Military Inteligency (CMI), who facilitated Mudasir and Charles Sibo to move with recruits from Uganda through Tanzania to Burundi. CMI operative Capt. Johnson and a one Col. Ignace Sibomana, Head of J2 in Burundi and Maj. Bertin were named.

Also mentioned is a one Richard Mateeka, a son of Ugandan Gen (Rtd) Mateeka, who also allegedly facilitated the movement of the recruits to Burundi, where they were welcomed and briefed about the P5 alliance before arming them and facilitating their transfer to Bijabo, Minembwe, Masisi in DRC.

The youngest member of the group is aged 18, while the oldest is 53.

Congolese forces have in recent months stepped up operations against armed groups in the country’s east and recently killed “Lt Gen” Sylvester Mudacumura, the commander of genocidal FDLR outfit.