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Jailed Rwandan politician slams 'ridiculous' case on appeal

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Jailed Rwandan opposition figure Victoire Ingabire on Wednesday urged the country's top court to reject prosecution demands to increase her eight-year sentence on appeal, saying her case was marred by irregularities.

Ingabire was found guilty last October of terrorism and denying the country's 1994 genocide, but charges of spreading genocide ideology and of "setting up an armed group" were dropped.

Prosecutors launched an appeal with the Supreme Court that began in March, asking for her punishment to be increased to 25 years and calling for judges to reconsider the dropped charges.

In Wednesday's appeal hearing, Ingabire urged the court to dismiss those demands.

"The High Court rejected the charge of supporting an armed group, but charged me for having wished to support and armed group," Ingabire said. "This is ridiculous, how can someone be charged for having a wish?"

Evidence brought by the prosecution was "contradictory", she added.

Ingabire's defence team has also appealed against the original verdict and is seeking a full acquitall in the ongoing appeal proceedings.

Ingabire is the leader of the Unified Democratic Forces, an opposition group not recognised as a political party in Rwanda.

She is said to have made remarks in January 2010 denying genocide at a memorial in the capital Kigali to the estimated 800,000 people, the majority of them Tutsis, who were killed in Rwanda's 1994 slaughter.

Ingabire, herself a Hutu, said it was time Hutu war victims were also commemorated.

She was in the Netherlands when the genocide broke out but returned to challenge President Paul Kagame in 2010 elections, although her party was not granted registration to take part.

Kagame was re-elected with 93 percent of the vote.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130417/jailed-rwandan-politician-slams-ridiculous-case-appeal