Col Tom Byabagamba, the former head of the Republican Guard in Rwanda, a highly-trained elite force that guards president Paul Kagame, appeared in military court in Kigali where he faces charges, including spreading propaganda against the state and concealing information that threatens state security, among others.
Col Byabagamba appeared in Nyamirambo military court together with Brig Frank Rusagara and a driver Sgt (rtd) Francois Kabayiza, who face similar charges.
Brig Rusagara, was the first to be arrested on Monday last week, before investigations led to the arrest of Capt Kabuye, a businessman, and then Col Byabagamba. Capt Kabuye was not produced in court.
At the time of their arrest, Rwanda’s defence and military spokesperson, Brig Gen Joseph Nzabamwita, said the trio was suspected of committing “crimes against state security”.
Col Byabagamba was removed as head of the Republican Guard in 2011 and taken to Rwanda Defence Force to head the anti-terrorism docket. He recently returned from a peacekeeping mission in South Sudan.
The accused pledged not guilty to the charges and hearing continues on September 5. Court was packed as friends and relatives came to follow the proceedings.
Brig Rusagara was retired from the army last October and also served as Rwanda’s Defence Attaché to the UK.
President Kagame has in the past said army officers get arrested because the army does not tolerate indiscipline. However, Kagame’s critics in exile have accused the president of “purging” whoever has divergent views from him and his inner circle.