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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
06KIGALI407
2006-04-28 12:24:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Kigali
Cable title:  

FORMER PRESIDENT ASKS KAGAME FOR A PARDON

Tags:   AFSN  KDEM  KJUS  PHUM  PREL  RW 
pdf how-to read a cable
VZCZCXYZ0001
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHLGB #0407/01 1181224
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 281224Z APR 06
FM AMEMBASSY KIGALI
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2683
						C O N F I D E N T I A L KIGALI 000407 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR AF/C, DRL AND HR/OE

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/28/2016
TAGS: AFSN KDEM KJUS PHUM PREL RW
SUBJECT: FORMER PRESIDENT ASKS KAGAME FOR A PARDON

REF: A. KIGALI 168

B. 02 KIGALI 736

Classified By: Poloff GLearned, reasons 1.4 (b/d)

C O N F I D E N T I A L KIGALI 000407

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR AF/C, DRL AND HR/OE

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/28/2016
TAGS: AFSN KDEM KJUS PHUM PREL RW
SUBJECT: FORMER PRESIDENT ASKS KAGAME FOR A PARDON

REF: A. KIGALI 168

B. 02 KIGALI 736

Classified By: Poloff GLearned, reasons 1.4 (b/d)


1. (U) Summary. Ex-President Pasteur Bizimungu recently
submitted a handwritten letter to President Kagame requesting
a pardon for his 2004 conviction for incitement of civil
disobedience, formation of a criminal association and
embezzlement of public funds. In the letter, Bizimungu
maintains that he had no "criminal intentions" and appeals to
Kagame to release him due to his poor health and for the
"general interests of the Nation". Charles Ntakirutinka, a
former Minister and Bizimungu,s co-defendant (ref B), also
requested a pardon. Although President Kagame has said he
would consider a pardon if he was asked by Bizimungu, there
has been no official GOR comment and officials have given
Emboffs no indication of how this process will proceed. End
summary.


2. (SBU) Bizimungu and Ntakirutinka, in prison since 2002,
lost their final appeal in a Supreme Court hearing on 17
February 2006 (ref A). According to Bizimungu's wife
Seraphine and lawyer Jean Bosco Kazungu, the letter was
delivered directly to the President's Office by Claude
Karara, Director of Kigali Central Prison. Ntakirutinka,s
pardon request was reportedly delivered the following day and
used the same "interests of the nation" rationale. (Note.
Embassy's request for a copy of his letter was declined. End
note.).


3. (C) In a 26 April meeting unrelated to Bizimungu,
Ambassador Arietti asked Ambassador Dr. Richard Sezibera,
Special Envoy to the Great Lakes Region for the President, if
he knew how the pardon request would be handled. Sezibera
acknowledged that the President had the authority to grant
the pardon but did not know the process and offered no other
insight on the issue.


4. (U) There will be no immediate decision as President
Kagame is currently on a trip to the US and Canada. On 2
April, prior to his departure for the US, on a Radio Rwanda
version of "Meet the Press", President Kagame reportedly told
an interviewer that he would consider a pardon if Bizimungu
asked for one.


5. (C) Emboffs have kept in regular contact with Seraphine
Bizimungu who has consistently expressed concerns for her
husband's health. Both she, and Ntakirutinka's wife Florida,
were pessimistic about a pardon. Seraphine said there was no
indication that her husband would be released as he is
perceived as a vocal political figure. She attributed
Kagame's 2 April comment as a way of preempting anticipated
criticism during his trip to the US and Canada.


6. (C) Comment. Kagame's April 2 comment did not represent a
major shift in his position as he has repeatedly said in the
past, both publicly and privately, that he would consider a
pardon if Bizimungu were to ask. Embassy will continue to
monitor GOR reaction to the clemency appeal. President Kagame
is an adept international operator and he recognizes the
importance of this issue to donor nations. It appears that he
has set the conditions to make the wise move to pardon
Bizimungu and Ntakirutinka.


7. (U) A very rough translation of the appeal letter from the
Kinyarwanda version follows.

BEGIN TEXT

His Excellency the President of the Republic,

In just concluded court proceedings, I was led by my
conscience that showed that I had no criminal intentions, and
break the law. The trial is now over.

That's why I am requesting Your Excellency's pardon by
lifting the remainder of my sentenced imposed by the court.
So that I may be released and receive proper medical care for
illnesses that were not treated in prison and so I can
collaborate with others in rebuilding Rwanda. It's better
that remaining tied in prison, where I have spent more time
than the usual time to be eligible for pardon in the general
interests of the Nation.

I thank you in advance your Excellency and wish you peace.

//s//

Pasteur Bizimungu

END TEXT
ARIETTI