Former Prime Minister, Pierre Damien Habumuremyi, is set to serve a three-year jail term and pay a fine of Rwf892.2 million after the Nyarugenge Intermediate Court on Friday, November 27, convicted him of issuing bounced cheques.
Habumuremyi, who is detained at Nyarugenge Prison in Mageragere, attended the ruling virtually.
The former Premier was arrested in July this year, being accused of issuing bounced cheques and breach of trust.
On the latter charge, the court ruled that the prosecution did not provide enough evidence to render the suspect guilty, therefore announcing him not guilty.
However, on the other charge, the judge noted that there was sufficient proof that when Habumuremyi issued the cheques he was aware that there was no money on the account to credit it.
“One of the evidence is that the accused himself admitted at many occasions that he was aware of the cheques being bounced,” the judge said.
Stating the charges against him in recent court hearings, the prosecution said Habumuremyi issued bounced cheques totaling to about Rwf170 million to different people on behalf of his now-defunct Christian University of Rwanda.
In his defence, Habumuremyi always pleaded not guilty of the charge saying that the cheques the university issued were not exactly meant for payments, but rather were a form of commitment to the creditors to demonstrate that the university owed them money.
In response, the prosecution would note that the former Prime Minister shouldn’t claim that there was no agreement between both parties to that effect, adding that “every collateral should be registered and approved by the Registrar General, which did not happen in this case.”
Friday’s verdict can be appealed against at the High Court if any of the parties is not satisfied, not later than 30 days after the ruling.
Before his arrest, Habumuremyi was the Chairperson of the Chancellery for Heroes, National Orders and Decorations of Honour (CHENO).
Co-accused found not guilty
Habumuremyi was jointly accused with Charles Serushyana, the former Director of Finance at the defunct Christian University.
He was accused of using his position to sign on a cheque while he knew very well that the account against which the cheque was issued was not credited.
In his defense, Serushyana claimed that by the time he signed the cheque he was no longer in charge of finance and therefore had no clue that there was no money on the university’s account.
Though he was no longer in charge of finance, he had been requested by the university to give necessary help whenever needed, including signing on cheques once in a while.
The court heard that Serushyana’s defence was credible, because he signed the bounced cheques months after he was no longer on the post, therefore announcing him not guilty.