East African Court of Justice, Arusha, 30th September, 2018: The First Instance Division dismissed Dr Mpozayo Christophe’s Case against the Government of Rwanda over his arrest, detention, prosecution conviction and sentencing for the offence of inciting insurrection amongst the population for being in possession of ammunition. The Applicant, who is a Rwandan Citizen and former Staff of the Community in the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA), was seeking Court orders to declare that the government infringed the fundamental Principles of the Community as well as Rwandan Laws.
In ruling Court held that it is not satisfied by the Applicant that Criminal Case No.RP0017/14/HC/KIG was conducted against universally accepted principles of law, therefore declaration against his arrest, detention, trial and imprisonment being unlawful was declined.
Further Court said that the Applicant has not proved violation of the principles of law enshrined in Articles 6(d) and 7 (2) or the Treaty, hence Court not satisfied and declined to declare that the Republic of Rwanda violated the EAC Treaty and principles of good governance and rule of law as well as his conviction was unlawful as sought by the Applicant.
In addition Court considered that granting orders that the sentence imposed on the Applicant in Criminal Case No.RP0017/14/HC/KIG and be set aside as well as an order that the Applicant’s conviction be hereby set aside, would be tantamount to exercise an appellate jurisdiction over national courts, which jurisdiction the court is not clothed with, hence such orders sought declined to be granted.
On the prayer Court to award general damages to the Applicant, the Court said that it may award general damages in an appropriate case, however, in this case, it we are unable to do so because the Applicant has not proved his claims in his Reference hence prayer was declined. Similarly, Court found no basis to award aggravated and exemplary damages as sought by the Applicant, having not succeeded in his case.
Furthermore, Court noted that, the Applicant in his Written Submissions raised a claim for his unpaid monthly earning. Court retaliated that, such a claim is akin to a claim for special damages and that it is according to the law, that specific damages must be pleaded and proved. That In this case, they were not pleaded. In any event, the Applicant has not even succeeded in the Reference, hence the prayer was disallowed.
In conclusion, the Court said that, with regard to the prayer for costs, as stated in Rule 111(1), costs follow the event unless the Court for good reasons otherwise orders. In this case, the Applicant having failed to prove his claims under this Reference, he would not be entitled to costs. Ordinarily, he should be subjected to pay costs to the Respondent. However, the Court is aware that the Applicant could not afford to engage a lawyer to represent him initially and that the ones that represented him subsequently were doing so under a legal aid brief by the East African Law Society. In the circumstance, it is in the interest of justice that each party bears its own costs.
The Lawyer representing the Applicant, after the Judgment was delivered, he requested Court to provide him with the copies of the pleadings and the Judgment to enable him Appeal to the Appellate Division.
The Judgment was delivered by Honorouble Lady Justice Monica Mugenyi, (Principal Judge), Justice Isaac Lenaola (Deputy Principal Judge), Justice Dr Faustin Ntezilyayo, Justice Fakihi Jundu, and Justice Audace Ngiye
The Applicant was represented by Mr Joel Kimutai Bosek an Ms Moureen Okoth whilea the Respondent was represented by Counsel Arnest William holding brief for Nicholas Ntarugera Counsel for the Respondent AG Rwanda
The Applicant underwent two different cases for two different charges or offences. In the first trial, he was arrested, detained, prosecuted, found innocent, acquitted and was accordingly released, while in the second trial he was arrested, detained, prosecuted, found guilty, convicted and sentenced to ten (10) years imprisonment.
In the first criminal case, the Applicant was arrested on 8th November, 2013, detained and charged with the offences of defamation, insulting a person in a private area, conspiracy against the Government of Rwanda and being in illegal possession of arms (a grenade). He was acquitted of the charges on 31st March, 2014 and released on 2nd April, 2014.
In the second criminal case, the Applicant was arrested on 2nd April, 2014, detained and charged with a different offence to wit inciting insurrection or trouble amongst the population. The Applicant was tried on the said offence and on 8th April, 2015 was found guilty, convicted and sentenced to ten (10) years imprisonment.
The Skype Chat documents, the WhatsApp conversation between the Applicant and one Munyampeta Jean Damascene was discovered in his seized laptop and produced before the trial court as evidence in the case against him of inciting insurrection or trouble amongst the population and the same were discovered after issuance of the decision to intercept the relevance communication and correspondence by the National Prosecutor, one Ruberwa Bonaventure on 25th October 2013.
About the EACJ
The East African Court of Justice (EACJ or ‘the Court’), is one of the organs of the East African Community established under Article 9 of the Treaty for the Establishment of the East African Community. Established in November 2001, the Court’s major responsibility is to ensure the adherence to law in the interpretation and application of and compliance with the EAC Treaty.
Arusha is the temporary seat of the Court until the Summit determines its permanent seat. The Court’s sub-registries are located in the respective National Courts in the Partner States.