Prosecution Seeks Life behind Bars for Rwandan Musician

A popular Rwandan musician who has pleaded guilty to plotting attacks against the central African nation's leaders should face life behind bars, a state prosecutor argued Monday.

Kizito Mihigo has been on trial along with three co-accused on charges including conspiracy to murder, complicity in a terrorist act and conspiring against the government of Rwandan strongman and President Paul Kagame.

In November he dismissed his defense lawyers, pleaded guilty and appealed for leniency -- although the trial had been hit by controversy with one of his co-accused alleging to have been the victim of torture.

His co-accused, demobilized soldier Jean Paul Dukuzumuremyi and Cassien Ntamuhanga, a journalist, as well as Agnes Niyibizi, all denied the charges.

"All the suspects committed the crimes of forming a criminal gang, conspiring against the established government of the president and complicity in a terrorist act," prosecutor Boniface Budengeri told a court hearing.

"Mihigo and Ntamuhanga particularly committed the crime of conspiracy to murder. Given that Mihigo and Ntamuhanga are accused of murder, a crime whose sentence amounts to a life, we therefore seek a life sentence for each of them," he added.

He also said Dukuzumuremyi should serve 50 years and Niyibizi 25 years in prison.

The court is due to deliver its verdict on February 27.

The arrest of the four, in April, came as Rwanda held commemorations to mark the 20th anniversary of the genocide, but also amid mounting criticism of the alleged suppression of political dissent by President Kagame.

Police said the four planned attacks in revenge for the assassination of a former spy chief and fierce critic of Kagame, Patrick Karegeya, who lived in exile in South Africa and who was found strangled to death in a Johannesburg luxury hotel on New Year's Day.

Mihigo was accused of being "in charge of mobilizing the youth" for the Rwanda National Congress (RNC), an opposition party in exile, as well as the FDLR, Rwandan Hutu rebels who include the perpetrators of the 1994 genocide in their ranks and who are based in the forests of neighboring DR Congo.

Source: Agence France Presse

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