from OMEGA SSUUNA in Bujumbura, Burundi
BUJUMBURA, (CAJ News) – BURUNDIAN authorities have been urged to quash the 32-year prison term imposed on human rights activist, Germain Rukuki, on charges of rebellion and threatening state security.
Human rights groups believe the charges are trumped and a ploy to silence him.
A new appeal hearing on Rukuki case is underway.
The Appeal Court of Ntahangwa is holding the hearing at Ngozi Prison, where Rukuki has spent almost four years behind bars.
“He must be immediately and unconditionally released, and his conviction overturned,” human rights advocate, Deprose Muchena, said.
In June 2020, Burundi’s Supreme Court overturned an earlier Appeal Court decision that had confirmed Rukuki’s sentence, and ordered the Appeal Court to reconsider the appeal with a new panel of judges.
It cited procedural irregularities following a change of judges midway through the initial appeal proceedings.
Rukuki is considered a prisoner of conscience detained solely on account of his human rights work.
He arrest was seen as part of a crackdown by then-President Pierre Nkurunziza against critics of his autocratic rule.
Nkurunziza died last year, coinciding with the election of Évariste Ndayishimiye, to succeed him.
– CAJ News