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Popular Rwandan Singer Retracts 10-year Jail Term Appeal

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Jailed Rwandan singer Kizito Mihigo has withdrawn an appeal he had sought to overturn his 10-year sentence handed in February 2015.

Mr Mihigo has said he has opted to serve his full prison term.

On Monday, the Supreme Court in Kigali granted the popular gospel singer the right to rescind his appeal which has been pending for two years.

The 37-year-old genocide survivor was arrested in April 2014 and convicted after pleading guilty to a plot to kill President Paul Kagame and other top government officials.

He was accused of involvement in activities aimed at destabilising the country and forming alliances with outlawed groups – the exiled opposition group, Rwanda National Congress (RNC) and rebel outfit in DR Congo, the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR).

He was jailed alongside radio journalist Cassien Ntamuhanga, who was handed 25 years but escaped prison in October 2017, and retired soldier Jean Paul Dukuzumuremyi, who got 30 years.

They appealed their sentences.

But on June 26, Mr Mihigo and Mr Dukuzumuremyi wrote to the Supreme Court requesting to stop the appeal hearing.

Parole?

Mr Mihigo, renowned for his songs about genocide, unity, and reconciliation, affirmed to the court on Monday that he was no longer interested in the appeal.

His lawyer Antoinette Mukamusoni told The EastAfrican that her client made the personal decision to drop the petition.

“He wrote to the court on June 26 and gave me a copy of the letter. It is true he said he no longer wants the appeal trial to go on. It is his lawful right to opt out of the case if he feels he is no longer interested,” she said.

“One of the reasons could be that he felt there was no need to continue with the appeal especially if he feels the grounds of his appeal are no longer tenable,” Ms Mukamusoni said.

Rwandan law states that “the withdrawal of a case is the claimant’s right to announce his/her decision to withdraw a case he/she had instituted, subject to the respondent’s consent”.

She added that while Mr Mihigo did not give the details why he opted out, he could have felt that his prison term was lenient having received a reduced sentence.

She also noted that since he has served a third of the sentence, he could apply for parole. She, however, did not confirm if that would be his next step.

Mr Mihigo says that he learned from his mistakes and continues to plead for forgiveness.

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