KIGALI — A Rwandan military court on Friday handed jail terms of between 20 and 24 years to four former comrades-in-arms of President Paul Kagame, tried in absentia for threatening state security.
"The Military High Court has sentenced to 24 years in prison the former army chief of staff General Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa and Major Theogene Rudasingwa," a court official said.
Former spy chief Patrick Karegeya and Gerald Gahima, the former attorney general and Rudasingwa's brother "were both handed terms of 20 years", the official said, asking not to be identified.
Nyamwasa and Karegeya are in exile in South Africa while Gahima and Rudasingwa are exiled in the United States.
The four were being prosecuted for "disturbing public order, threatening state security, making insulting and defamatory remarks, sectarianism and criminal conspiracy."
Nyamwasa and Rudasingwa were also charged with desertion from the army. Karegeya and Gahima were tried as civilians. Under Rwandan law if military personnel conspire with civilians to commit a crime, the civilians are also tried in a military court.
Rwanda's military spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Jill Rutaremara told AFP that further charges against the four will follow.
"Other charges including terrorism will also be brought by the state prosecution," he said, adding "they are still under investigation" and evoking the "complexity" of the inquiry.
The prosecutor had asked for terms of 35 years against Nyamwasa and Rudasingwa and 30 years for Karegeya and Gahima.
The four, all of whom were once in Kagame's inner circle, last September co-authored a document slamming what they said was the repression of freedoms in Rwanda since Kagame's arrival in 1994.
They accused Kagame of being authoritarian, corrupt and driving the country back towards a conflict on the same scale as the 1994 massacres.
"The people of Rwanda, together with rest of the international community, have a moral duty to work to end this repressive system of government," the four said in a 60-page report.
Rutaremara and Kagame's defence advisor Brigadier General Richard Rutatina retorted the following month that none of the four had the integrity or the moral authority to criticise the Rwandan government.
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