KIGALI (Reuters) - Rwandan prosecutors on Wednesday charged 25 men with treason and other crimes related to their alleged activities in a rebel group founded by a South African-based dissident.
The men appeared in a military court in the capital Kigali for the first time since they were repatriated in June from neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) where they were captured.
The suspects included Habibu Mudathiru a former Rwandan soldier who prosecutors say was in charge of operations and training in Congo for the Rwanda National Congress (RNC), a rebel group founded by Kayumba Nyamwasa.
Nyamwasa, a former ally of President Paul Kagame, is now a Rwandese dissident based in South Africa.
Appearing in court, Mudathiru had an injured and bandaged right leg and walked on crutches with support from two army officers who held his arms on either side
He sat throughout the session and was given a pillow to lay his leg on.
Prosecution also said some of the suspects were Burundians while others were Ugandans.
None of all suspects had a lawyer and they are expected to return to court on Thursday to make a plea.
“I did not get enough time to get a lawyer,” Muthatiru told the court.
Rwanda has in the past accused Uganda and Burundi of working with Kayumba’s RNC in a bid to remove Kagame. Relations between Rwanda and its two neighbors have since been strained.
The prosecution said the suspects received transport and ammunition support from both Uganda and Burundi.
Various groups opposed to Rwanda have over the years found sanctuary in DRC’s vast eastern jungles, including the FDLR, composed of former Rwandan soldiers and Hutu militias who fled after committing Rwanda’s 1994 genocide.
Congo’s military said last month it had killed Sylvestre Mudacumura, FDLR’s leader.
Writing by Elias Biryabarema; Editing by Angus MacSwan