Col Tom Byabagamba and Rtd Brig Gen Frank Rusagara claim to be detained in isolation for three years

Court of Appeal of Rwanda heard this 22nd the case of former chief of the republican guard, Colonel Tom Byabagamba and retired General Frank Rusagara and Rtd Sgt Francois Kabayiza, who were sentenced to lengthy jail terms by the Military High Court three years ago.

The three men appeared before the Court of Appeal challenging March 2016 verdicts by the Military High Court, that saw Col. Byabagamba jailed for 21 years, and stripped him of his military rank for tarnishing the image of the State, public insurrection, illegal possession of firearms, contempt of Guards Coat, and concealing evidence in a criminal case, Rusagara 20 years and Kabayiza 5 years. In today’s hearing, the convicts want the Court of Appeal to overturn their convictions and set them free. But prosecution rejected these pleas saying they are baseless.

Meanwhile, the convicts and their lawyers filed an application for bail, arguing that they were not in position to tamper with any evidence against them, and posed no threat to prosecution witnesses. Each of them cited ill-health as one of the grounds for seeking bail.

They also said they are detained at Kanombe military camp, instead of Mulindi military prison – as the Military High Court had directed – which has left them inaccessible to family, thus feeling isolated. Military prosecution also said that the detention facility at Kanombe is an extension of Mulindi military prison and that the three men were entitled to receiving visitors contrary to their claims.

Court set May 31 as the date when it will pronounce itself on the bail applications.

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