- Former reporter with state-owned Radio Rwanda, Dominique Makeli, who had been detained for the past 14- years on a vague genocide-related charge was released last week Monday, Reporters Without Borders (RWB) has discovered.
"This is excellent news and a great relief. Like fellow Radio Rwanda journalist Tatiana Mukakibibi, who was freed in November 2007 after 11 years in detention, Makeli has suffered an incredibly long ordeal during which he was unable to defend himself against slanderous allegations. We hope he will now be able to live peacefully after these 14 years of isolation and injustice," RWB said.
Media reports show that Mr Makeli's release on 13 October was a result of his acquittal by a popular tribunal in Kigali district of Nyarugenge on 5 October.
Reports also indicate that former radio journalist was detained since 18 September 1994, adding that he had been transferred from one detention centre to another, ending up in Kigali central prison, also known as "1930".
RWB learned from a public prosecutor that Mr Makeli was accused of inciting genocide in his reports while covering a supposed appearance of the Virgin in Kibeho, in west of country, in May 1994.
Mr Makeli reported that he was supposed to have said, "The parent is in heaven." Prosecutor insisted that, in context of that moment, this was taken to mean, "president Habyarimana is in heaven" and was interpreted as a message of support for Mr Habyarimana and, by extension, the policy of exterminating Tutsis.
Both Mr Makeli and many local independent observers disputed that interpretation.
During its visits to Rwanda, RWB reportedly met Mr Makeli several times in prison. A very religious person whose health deteriorated steadily during his years in prison, he always insisted on his innocence.
He was transferred to Arusha, Tanzania, in 2007 to appear as a witness before International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) and was returned to prison in Rwanda thereafter.
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