News24

Burundi jails 14 for murder of activist

2012-05-24 13:53

Bujumbura - A Burundian court has convicted 14 people of killing a prominent anti-corruption activist in 2009, despite assertions from human rights groups that it ignored FBI evidence to jail the wrong people.

The jail terms, handed down on Tuesday, ranged from 10 years to life imprisonment, a Justice Ministry spokesperson said.

The authorities have not explained the background to Ernest Manirumva's murder in 2009. The human rights group APRODH said it had found that he had been investigating weapons trafficking from Burundian police to Rwandan Hutu rebels in neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo.

In 2009, the US Federal Bureau of Investigation answered a Burundian government request to help investigate the murder.

"The trial wasn't fair from start to finish. We don't trust this false ruling," said APRODH chairperson Pierre Claver Mbonimpa.

"For us, the wrong people have been found guilty because there are police officers who were cited in the FBI report but never brought to court," he said.

The Justice Ministry declined to comment.

Another campaign group, the Forum for the Strengthening of Civil Society (FORSC), said the judicial authorities "have at every stage in the proceedings disregarded the FBI's recommendations".

"None of the police or military officials mentioned in the FBI report has even been investigated," it said.

Last year Burundi was ranked as east Africa's most corrupt country by Transparency International for the second year in a row.

Defence lawyer Isidore Rufyikiri told Reuters he planned to appeal.