President Paul Kagame has ordered the release of his former prime minister from jail.
Pierre-Damien Habumuremyi, who was pardoned on Thursday October 14, served as Prime Minister of Rwanda from 7 October 2011 until 24 July 2014. He previously served as Minister of Education from May 2011 to October 2011.
Habumuremyi was serving a three-year sentence following financial woes relating to his former university.
Dr. Habumuremyi, who was arrested in July 2020, after things fell apart at his university, Christian University of Rwanda, appealed the sentence in Nyarugenge Intermediate Court, which commuted his sentence by 1 year and 3 months.
The former premier was found guilty of issuing a bounced cheque. Habumuremyi was also fined RWF892.2 million (US$907,000).
He however was still to serve 1 year and 9 months and be released in six months. He was expected to serve 1 year and 3 months suspended and pay the fine.
The Christian University of Rwanda was one of three private universities that were permanently closed by the ministry of education due to their failure to meet quality standards as well as administrative and financial problems.
Dr Habumuremyi was majorioty in Christian University (60%), while his son owned 30 percent and the Vice-Chancellor 10 percent.
Dr Habumuremyi was charged alongside Charles Serushyana, a former accountant of the university, who was later acquitted.
President Kagame overtime has been lenient with political political.
In September 2018, Kagame released 2100 prisoners including opposition leaders. The late Kizito Mihigo, a very popular musician who died in custody recently and Rwandan opposition leader Victoire Ingabire were part of the group released following a surprise presidential pardon.
Rwandan gospel singer Kizito Mihigo was found dead, at the age of 38, in a police cell. At one time he was hailed as a great national talent but then he was accused of being a traitor.
On February 14, 2020, the Rwanda Investigation Bureau (RIB) confirmed that Mihigo had been arrested close to the border, accused of attempting to illegally cross into Burundi, joining “terrorist” groups and of corruption, as well breaching the terms of his release from prison in 2018. Just days later, on February 17, 2020, Rwanda National Police announced that Mihigo had been found dead in his police cell in Kigali at 5 am that morning, in an alleged suicide.
While Ingabire, who leads the FDU-Inkingi opposition party, was serving a 15-year sentence for “genocide denial” and conspiring against the government, charges which she had always denied.
Ingabire returned to Rwanda from exile in the Netherlands in 2010, planning to run for president, but was barred from standing after being accused of genocide denial and was arrested before the vote took place.
In 2012, she was sentenced to 15 years for conspiring to form an armed group to undermine the government and seeking to minimize the 1994 genocide.
Human Rights Watch has called the charge of “genocide denial” politically motivated and the trial was widely criticized.
A total of 2,140 prisoners were released on Saturday without explanation, including the musician Kizito Mihigo, after the cabinet approved a presidential order.
Also in 2007, Rwanda’s first post-genocide president Pasteur Bizimungu was released after a presidential pardon for a 15-year sentence he received on charges that included inciting ethnic violence.
He was jailed in 2004 after a trial critics said was politically motivated. He had been convicted for creating a militia, embezzling state funds and inciting ethnic violence in a nation still healing from genocide.
An ethnic Hutu, he was appointed president when the ruling Tutsi-dominated Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) took power after the 1994 genocide, in which extremists from the Hutu majority butchered 800,000 Tutsis and politically moderate Hutus.
President Paul Kagame, whose Tutsi-led Rwandan Patriotic Army ended the hundred days of slaughter, was then vice-president, but in reality had more power than his superior.