Rwanda - Radio reporter freed after being held for 14 years on genocide charge



    MONTREAL, Oct. 16 /CNW Telbec/ - Reporters Without Borders has learned
that Dominique Makeli, a former reporter with state-owned Radio Rwanda who had
held since 1994 on a vague, genocide-related charge, was released on
13 October.
    "This is excellent news and a great relief," Reporters Without Borders
said. "Like fellow Radio Rwanda journalist Tatiana Mukakibibi, who was freed
in November 2007 after 11 years in detention, Makeli has suffered an
incredibly long ordeal during which he was unable to defend himself against
slanderous allegations. We hope he will now be able to live peacefully, after
these 14 years of isolation and injustice."
    Makeli's release on 13 October was a result of his acquittal by a gacaca
(popular tribunal) in the Kigali district of Nyarugenge on 5 October. Detained
since 18 September 1994, he had been transferred from one detention centre to
another, ending up in Kigali central prison, also known as "1930".
    A public prosecutor told Reporters Without Borders in October 2001 that
Makeli was accused of inciting genocide in his reports. While covering a
supposed appearance of the Virgin in Kibeho, in the west of the country, in
May 1994, Makeli reported that she was supposed to have said: "The parent is
in heaven." The prosecutor insisted that, in the context of that moment, this
was taken to mean, "President Habyarimana is in heaven" and was interpreted as
a message of support for Habyarimana and, by extension, the policy of
exterminating Tutsis. Both Makeli and many local independent observers
disputed that interpretation.
    During its visits to Rwanda, Reporters Without Borders met Makeli several
times in prison. A very religious person whose health deteriorated steadily
during his years in prison, he always insisted on his innocence. He was
transferred to Arusha, Tanzania, in 2007 to appear as a witness before the
International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) and was returned to prison
in Rwanda afterwards.




For further information:

For further information: Katherine Borlongan, Executive Director,
Reporters Without Borders Canada, (514) 521-4111, rsfcanada@rsf.org

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