Burundi: Life sentence required against the putschists: our “motivation was legal”

Burundi: Life sentence required against the putschists: our “motivation was legal”

The prosecutor of the Supreme Court of Burundi requested Wednesday life against the 28 defendants in the trial said “the coup of May 13 and 14” past.

Since December 14, 28 Burundian soldiers and police officers are tried by this Court in Gitega (a hundred kilometers from the capital, Bujumbura). On 13 and 14 May last, the army and the police took advantage of the departure abroad of President Pierre Nkurunziza to dismiss him. Stubbornness, widely condemned, the head of state to run for a third term – forbidden by the Arusha Peace Agreement, which ended the civil war (1993-2005) – had triggered protests unrelenting in the capital since April 25, harshly repressed. But the army was divided and the coup had been defeated.

Defence rights not respected

The ongoing trial in Gitega does not meet international standards, mainly because it does not respectecte the rights of the defense.

The judges and lawyers rejected the main defendants at the first two days of the trial, under various pretexts. The Belgian Bernard Maingain has been flatly accused of complicity in the coup, while Mr. Lambert and Mr. Nsabimana Onesimus Kabayabaya were accused of obstruction of justice. The defense had argued – unsuccessfully – that she could have a copy of the case file and that its additional investigation requests were rejected, as his requests to call witnesses.

On Monday, the main accused, Major General Cyrille Ndayirukiye, a former defense minister, rejected the appointed attorneys by the court on behalf of the right to choose his lawyers. And because they had not had time to read the case and even less to request investigative measures. He decided to make his own defense.

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La Libre Belgique had access to the text of it, that the accused was able to partially pronounce Wednesday. Here, exclusively.



The argument of the main accused

Mister President,

The man who is now prosecuted in your high court has always had the highest idea of ??the supreme duties of the State of Burundi, whose army and justice. You can review all of my career and it will attest to.

I also think that this very high opinion I have of the State and its missions, is based on the ultimate meaning of this mission, serve the people of Burundi in accordance with the law.

In our Burundian society, the law of the Burundian people should be the ultimate guide to all the servants of the State, the undersigned, in his capacity as military. I have never had any other ambition, no other perspective in all the functions that I have had the honor to assume.

Today, in the exercise of judicial magistracy, you have to put a value judgment on the acts which were mine from 13 to 15 May 2015. Your mission is to tell the law.

The exercise of this mission to judge is in a clear framework that lawyers have set up generation after generation and which bears the beautiful name of fair trial. In all courts in the world, on every continent, have gradually established some basic standards against which we appreciate if justice can be made by those who are required to serve, namely judges.

In my own country, Burundi, it is clear to me that when justice must be pronounced on me, these essential guarantees have not been respected.

Any preliminary investigation of a trial and all instruction hearing shall be drawn to the prosecution and defense. The prosecution and defense must be placed on equal footing during the procedure to allow to exchange evidence and legal arguments.

Allow me, Mr. President, to say that this fundamental guarantee I have not been recognized before or during my trial.

None of my lawyers had copies of parts of my file and he was even more so for the undersigned. I have not had the time or the leisure to analyze these parts to prepare my defense.

Simultaneously investigating all my applications were rejected.

I asked repeatedly hearing the Defence Minister and the Chief of Staff of the period as well as the former head of the intelligence service, all three being major players in these crucial days May, 2015.

Their testimony and their confrontation with the undersigned would have provided valuable information on those involved in this issue at the top of the state apparatus and the painful choices that they felt obliged to do in the interest of the law as well their betrayals and the motivations of these betrayals. The account of the discussions between the various parties on 13 and 14 May are obviously crucial and we have many testimonies likely to give you a complete perspective on the events.

Holding these preliminary inquiry or hearing would also have to seek other useful testimony to the manifestation of judicial truth. Indeed, the action taken was not intended to cause harm to anyone. She only sought to ensure respect for the Arusha Accords and our Constitution and laws of the Burundian people.

These basic training measures have not been met at any stage of the proceedings.

To defend myself, I had requested the intervention of three lawyers, Mr. Onesimus Kabayabaya, Mr. Lambert Nsabimana and Mr. Bernard Maingain. All three have my confidence.

The first and second days of the trial, they all three were disqualified for various reasons.

Me is not Maingain Burundi but has supported many defenses in the area without worrying about anything other than the auxiliary mission of justice and no matter his ethnic or social origin or other of those consult it. He has the confidence of many of my fellow receives their confidences scrupulously respecting professional secrecy. He plies his trade without having done him any disciplinary or criminal blame for over 37 years.

The lawyers I had chosen in Burundi are in the same mold and the same quality to me. They work with the utmost respect for the law and a high idea of ??their function as officers of the court. They have never been involved in any violation of law either. They have my full confidence. I trust them since the beginning of my legal difficulties.

They also have a reputation for serving the law undaunted. I had the conviction that their word would be free at the bar which is obviously important. For these men take a defense in these conditions is not easy, but all three have accepted it. They have given me all three of the many pressures they were subjected since they reported their intervention.

They even threatened in their physical existence to the point that negotiations were carried out to ensure a minimum degree of protection.

During the introductory hearing, they had chosen to report first before you procedural irregularities they observed to set up a hearing schedule may favor a complete education of the hearing to negotiate sufficient time for oral argument. All three have been excluded from the proceedings in two days of hearings. One under the pretext of complicity in the coup which is an absurd accusation and the other under the pretext of obstructing justice while they were content to demand respect for the rules of fair trial.

This trial is held after beheaded defense of any possibility of intervention on my behalf. It is therefore a trial without respect for the rights of defense.

Day before yesterday, I learned that you had court-appointed lawyers.

Even if all this is legal, which is absolutely not the case, you will agree that in this case, I have the right to meet with my lawyers and they must be able to exchange with me, read the case, obtain a copy, read it, request additional investigative measures, lodge memorials to assert my rights in court.

They also had the honesty to remind you before yesterday. A public defender can not be reduced to the role of helpless witness of a procedure. The lawyer’s dress can not be simply a pretext for staging which he would be the powerless spectator. Yet this is what you try to do concerning them. Indeed, after the court-appointed lawyers, you force them to attend hearings powerless to try to take advantage of their presence at a procedural level but nobody in the world is fooled by this scene.

You have thus imposed me to pursue my defense alone without any delay organize and prepare for me personally since I am a private lawyer. Again, the basic defense rights are violated.

Last but not the least, let me remind you the particular conditions of detention in which the cited parties before you are. We take them with dignity. Under the pretext of a risk of attack from the prison, you have strengthened the prison conditions of my fellow prisoners and myself. In this context, prison conditions can not be inhuman or degrading. Yet this is what happened. However, we recognize that there has been a slight easing of the conditions but violations of human rights persist including isolation, lack of access to the collective interest of the prison and the right to worship. The most fragrant example is the refusal of that right even on Christmas Day 2015.

Drive conditions were reduced to more than minimum. The possibilities of sports or physically limited. The living space in the prison declined completely. I know the High Commission for Human Rights which the United Nations has agreed to follow my case and that of my fellow prisoners has written numerous reports on our detention situation. I ask here that these reports be filed in the case file.

I’m not sure this is by placing police outside the cell doors and giving them the order to shoot the prisoners if attacked these detention conditions meet basic standards of respect for human rights human person.

All these violations of human rights should take me at this point to stop defending me because I am convinced that the standards of fair trial are not met.

But I want to go further.

Yes, I must reiterate that the actions by the undersigned have been consciously and knowingly. Once the authority, Supreme she was issuing orders along the lines of the violation of the law and endangering the people, even the most disciplined military or police is entitled to refuse the order and for best interests of the country.

As to why the use of heavy means you accuse me of, I wonder by what means we might have to temper the madness of a police and an intelligence service over-armed at the location of a population innocent and defenseless. Furthermore, these heavy means have been used as a deterrent. The images of the event speak volumes.

As I said to the bar 48 hours ago, Mr. Nkurunziza has tasted the forbidden fruit, and no one doubted that this violation of the law was extremely serious and that it was an unbearable stabbing in the Arusha agreements. Like the endemic corruption that prevailed in our country and who was not prosecuted, as are the many political murders never followed investigations worthy of the name, the violation of the founding pact on the occasion of elections consumed rupture between President and his people.

This break was followed by bloody repression and long-planned in any form of protest by the people. By the time we come May 13, the people of Burundi has already reached into his flesh. Activists fall under police bullets, fake policemen and militiamen Imbonerakure. The right to demonstrate is now openly suppressed except for the benefit of those who support Mr Nkurunziza and pressure on civil society activists and human rights reached a considerable level of intensity.

Again, you have me deprived of the right to hear witnesses contextual facts for understanding our work.For motivation of the action of the leaders of the army, the chief of staff and defense minister at the preparatory meetings, was not to make a putsch as some have said. He was not able to bring back to people without democratic legitimacy, which is why the people of Burundi is struggling for years.

It was for those involved including myself to dismiss a man who had tasted the forbidden fruit and neutralize its ability to break the law, to restore the democratic process. It is in any case clear orders that the Chief of Staff and Minister of Defence of the period gave us and that we had chosen to run conscience.

We also wanted to ensure these interventions are carried out without bloodshed. All military leaders, at least officially, shared this vision and all were convinced that the Burundian people in their overwhelming majority, supported our approach. The jubilation May 13 in Bujumbura attested elsewhere. Our intervention was compared with the Carnation Revolution in Portugal and other movements of armed forces when it decides to act favorably for the restoration of the law. This was exactly our motivation.

Our only mistake was to believe that all those who prepared this intervention had the same sincerity and the same honesty. It was not the case.

In a trial respectful of the rights of the defense and fair trial standards, there would have been many witnesses to be invited to the bar and so many facts to be submitted to your analysis and your judgment but this was prohibited us .

That’s the story that tragically turned while we had to ask these acts to preserve law and democracy in Burundi.

The remaining question for you if the concern to respect the Arusha Agreement and the Constitution, if the will to respect the fundamental rights of Burundian, if the will to organize free and democratic elections are the motivations justifying conviction.

Developments since May 13, 2015 confirm our view that the state of necessity to justify our approach military. At no time was the least gesture posed for the restoration of fundamental freedoms. Burundians suffer as he rarely suffered. The Burundian people could not participate in free elections and denunciations about it rained everywhere. At no time, a compromise solution was sought with the opposition. Recent events in Kampala are the sad illustration.

I assume therefore the choice made as a military although this approach has failed. The motivation was legal. The principle of proportionality in the choice of ways and means has been respected, the military wanting to act by causing the least possible harm to the population and having acted in this direction throughout the events.

Today we are in prison, but the fundamental law is not respected and the social contract that should unite all citizens seems forgotten. One refuses to even discuss it.

Today, thanks to a botched trial, we try to make us look for scapegoats and it requires us to criminal convictions and payment of civil damages for the events we n ‘have not ordered, which we did not participate and that we are totally strangers. We formally contest the charges. We dispute formally sponsoring these events we are trying to put us back today we formally dispute having been perpetrators, conspirators and accomplices. This is the final step in an unacceptable procedure to make us the scapegoats for all the ills that have affected our country.

After this brief, I repeat that my only concern was the respect of the law and the people of Burundi.

If the unfair justice Gitega does not account for the loyalty of our approach, the judgment of history will remain forever. I served my people. I want to be judged by my actions. Long live Free Burundi, long live the free people of Burundi, the Arusha live, long live the rule of law and democracy.

Major General Cyrille Ndayirukiye

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