Burundi journalist's rights 'trampled on' lawyer says

21st December 2011, Comments 0 comments

The rights of a Burundian journalist who is the Swahili correspondent for French radio RFI have been "trampled on since he was arrested" in late November on "terrorism charges", his lawyer said Wednesday.

Hassan Ruvakuki, a correspondent for Radio France Internationale (RFI) and for the private Bonesha FM radio station, was arrested after allegedly taking part in operations by an armed group.

Ruvakuki "was arrested on November 28 in Bujumbura and then taken in secret to Cankuzo, where he was held in secret in a military camp," the lawyer Onesime Kabayabaya said.

"He was brought before the judges who ruled he should stay in detention and then before the appeal judges who made the same ruling, and in both cases he was refused legal counsel," Kabayabaya added.

The lawyer has not seen his client since the arrest and he has not been allowed to consult his file to see what he is accused of.

Kabayabaya accused Burundi's Vice President Terence Sinunguruza of having met with diplomats over the case and of having shown them "so-called proof" of Ruvakuki's guilt.

"It's completely unacceptable. It's a flagrant violation of the independence of the judiciary," he protested.

No Burundian legal officials wished to comment on the lawyer's declarations Wednesday.

Ruvakuki is accused of having taken part in the activities of an armed group responsible for several attacks carried out in Cankuzo province in the east of the country in november.

A fresh wave of violence in Burundi has raised fears that the country, which has struggled to emerge from more than a decade of conflict that left 300,000 dead, could slide back into war.

© 2011 AFP

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