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Amnesty calls for ‘fair’ trial of Rwanda opposition chief

Amnesty International has urged the Rwandan authorities to ensure opposition leader Victoire Ingabire gets a “swift, fair trial” after her arrest on suspicion of denying the 1994 genocide.

Ingabire, a likely challenger to President Paul Kagame in August presidential elections, was arrested in Kigali on April 21 and also stands accused of “collaborating with a terrorist organisation.”

A Kigali court handed her a conditional release the day after her detention.

“Amnesty International urges the Rwandan government to ensure that opposition leader Victoire Ingabire receives a swift, fair trial,” said the rights group in a statement released Tuesday.

“We have documented a number of incidents of intimidation and harassment of opposition groups in Rwanda in recent months,” said Erwin van der Borght, Africa programme director for Amnesty.

“Now with the arrest of a potential presidential candidate a few months ahead of the election, we call on the government to demonstrate that this is not another such case.”

A prosecution statement released after Ingabire’s arrest said she stands accused of “association with a terrorist group; propagating genocide ideology; negationism and ethnic divisionism.”

The charges stem from remarks made by Ingabire after her return to Rwanda in January, in which she called for the trial of those responsible for the death of Hutus in the genocide.

An estimated 800,000 people were killed in the massacre planned and carried out by ethnic Hutu extremists. Most killed were Tutsis but moderate Hutus were also victims.

Ingabire, a Hutu, heads the United Democratic Forces (FDU) party which was formed in exile but is not yet registered in Rwanda.