Uganda has handed over 9 Rwandan nationals to Rwanda’s High Commission and Immigration office at the International Conference Centre.
The 9 Rwandan nationals were formally charged in 2018 of unlawful possession of firearms and ammunition but were set free yesterday by the General Court Martial after withdrawing charges of abduction and illegal possession of firearms from them.
The accused persons have been under incarceration since August 2017 over different charges related to illegal possession of firearms and were arrested from places including Isingiro, Mbarara, and Kampala Districts by the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence.
While addressing journalists on Wednesday afternoon, Uganda’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Sam Kutesa said that the government withdrew the charges in line with the Uganda-Rwanda Memorandum of Understanding that was signed in Angola’s capital of Luanda.
He further presented two more Rwandan nationals that were not part of the Court Martial sessions to make the number rise to nine as he handed them over to the Rwanda High Commission ahead of their repatriation today.
He said, “In line with the Luanda Memorandum of Understanding signed between the Republic of Uganda and the Republic of Rwanda on the normalization of relations between the two countries, and in the context of the goodwill being exhibited in an effort to normalize relations between the two countries, Government of Uganda has withdrawn charges of nine Rwandan nationals that were undergoing prosecution in the General Court Martial for various offenses including among others unlawful possession of firearms and ammunition at the time that the cases were coming up for hearing.”
The nine Rwandan nationals have been identified as Mugabo Nelson, RTD SGT Rene Rutagungira, Etienne Nsanzabahizi, Claude Yakalemye, Emmanuel Rwamuchwo, Augustine Rutayisire, CPL Nzeyamana Herman, Munyagabe Adrien, and Urayeneza Gilbert.
SGT Rutagungira was allegedly accused of using a pistol and grenades to abduct Lt. Joel Mutabazi and Jackson Kalemera, former bodyguards of Rwanda President Paul Kagame before taking them to Rwanda with the help Ugandan Police officers including Nixon Agasirwe who are also battling similar charges in the same court.
Kutesa reiterated that Uganda is committed to the full normalization of relations between the two countries and noted that the repatriation is an act of goodwill.
In the meantime, the High Commissioner of Rwanda to Uganda Major General Frank Mugambage said that Uganda should stop its principle of arbitrary arrests and that the repatriation is a step in the right direction.