The Military High Court has slashed the jail sentences of two soldiers convicted for committing several acts of aggression against residents of Kangondo 2 village, Nyarutarama cell in Remera Sector in Gasabo District, in March 2020.
Originally, the case involved a total of five soldiers and two civilians, but military prosecution dropped charges of three of the soldiers at the substantive level of the trail.
The charges were maintained for soldiers Fidele Nishimwe and Patrick Ndayishimiye, along with two civilians Diane Mukamulisa and Donart Nakaziraho (local security officers).
The accused initially faced several charges including rape, theft, as well as assaulting and beating and injuring people while on night patrol on various dates of March last year.
In October last year, the military tribunal absolved the two solders of the crime of rape, complicity in rape and theft, since military prosecution did not present enough evidence to pin them on these crimes.
However, the tribunal found Ndayishimye guilty of assaulting and injuring people, and sentenced him to 3 years in jail.
Nishimwe, Nakaziraho and Mukamulisa were convicted for abetting the crime and sentenced to one year in jail.
Following the verdict, both the prosecution and defendants’ side appealed at the Military High Court.
The defendants on appeal argued that they had been given ‘excessive penalties’ by the lower court.
On the other hand, prosecution’s appeal was based on that claim that the tribunal had not paid attention to the body of evidence presented to pin the defendants on the crimes of rape, complicity in rape and theft.
In an appeal ruling that the Military High Court issued on Wednesday, December 1, the presiding judge maintained that there wasn’t enough evidence to convict the defendants of rape, theft and complicity in rape.
Here, for example, he said that the prosecutors failed to present evidence challenging Nishimwe’s alibi that he was in the barracks – sick between the 14th and 25th of March, the time in which the alleged rape took place.
As for the other days when prosecutors claimed that he had sex with the woman in question, there is no evidence that it was forced.
The judge also cited the fact that the medical report done as part of the investigation into the rape crime cannot be used as evidence since it did not prove the rape.
At the end of the session, the judge reduced Ndayishimiye’s sentence to five months in jail and a fine of Rwf500,000, since the crime of beating and injuring that he committed did not cause any serious effects on the victim.
Court also took into account the fact that he was remorseful from the time of investigating the case and was cooperative throughout the trial.
The other three defendants were handed a 6-month jail term.
On a specific note, Mukamulisa’s jail-term was suspended for one year since she has a little child to take care of.