Diane Shima Rwigara, 37, a political activist and opposition leader in Rwanda who alongside her mother was detained for about a year by Paul Kagame's led government for allegations of document forgery and 'inciting insurgency' during her campaign for presidency in last year's election, is facing a possible 22 Years Jail term as demanded by government prosecutors.
Trials resumed on the case after a high court judge surprisingly granted Diane and her mother bail from detention in October.
Diane has denied the allegations which she claims are politically motivated and aimed at breaking her spirit and will. According to her, the allegations were cooked up because she dared to stand against the Rwandan state and Paul Kagame.
The detention of Diane Rwigara and her mother Adeline Rwigara, which lasted for about a year raised public outcry from within and outside Africa, as critics accused President Paul Kagame of handling opposition and criticism with an iron fist.
Many critics also claimed that he was particularly against female opposition and didn't respect equal right - an issue which his appointments tend to reflect.
Upon start of the trial, prosecutors representing the government begged the court to jail Diane Rwigara for fifteen years for instigating insurgency and seven additional years for forging documents in her bid to contest against President Kagame in last year's elections.
In defense, Diane told the court that she did not incite ethnic hatred in any way as accused, but only called on citizens to resist tyranny and stand for their rights.
“I stand by my remarks. They reflect my political journey, coupled with calling on Rwandans to resist fear and speak for our country.” She told the court.
The court has adjoined the case to December 6th, 2018 when the three Judges in charge of the hearing would give their verdict.
Speaking during the hearing, the prosecution official said:
“We demand that Diane Rwigara be jailed for fifteen years for insurgency and seven years for falsifying documents.”
The pronouncement was greeted with rage and boos from Diane Rwigara's supporters; and in a reaction, opposition member, Victoire Ingabire said:
“I don’t understand that someone who expresses what she sees as the problems of the country, and does it in the context of correcting mistakes gets 22 years in prison. She did it in the constructive context; she did not do it in the destructive context. I don’t understand how you can ask for 22 years in prison."
Fingers are crossed in both camps as everyone looks forward to December 6th.
Last week, Diane and her mother, Adeline Rwigara were both featured on The Guardian UK as their international support continue to increase, and calls for the Rwandan government to drop all charges against them intensifies.
Header Image: BBC