Thursday, 23 May 2013

Courts Turn To Public Trials In A Bid To Fight Drug Trafficking

Courts turn to public trials in a bid to fight drug trafficking
The Nyamirambo Primary Court was the first to carry out a public hearing of drug trafficking suspects in a new scheme to fight drug related crimes in the country.
Courts from now on will be trying drug crimes in areas which the crimes were committed in order for people to understand the consequences of dealing in drugs.
Drug abuse is one of the common serious crimes in Rwanda, especially among the youth. This has called for unusual methods to fight the scourge.
According to the Chief Prosecutor of the Nyamirambo-based Nyarugenge Intermediate Court, Rugambwa Ndibwami the public trials will set a precedent to all would be dealers hence escalating the fight against drug abuse.
Police say that drug dealings fuel other crimes like defilement, assault and theft.
The Nyamirambo primary court held its first public hearing at Kivugiza primary School where four people, who were arrested last week in Kigali in connection with drug crimes were arraigned.
Daniel Mutebutsi, Innocent Ndagijimana, Dederi Mutijima and Jean Damascene Byiringiro pleaded guilty of consuming cannabis after court read charges levied against them.
The public was attended by students, teachers, motorcycle operators and residents of Nyamirambo. Two other suspects denied the charges.
Mutebutsi, on his part, argued that he was taking the illegal drug as medicine after his colleague prescribed it to him. He told court that he had a stomach illness.
“A friend of mine told me that if I mix cannabis in tea, it will heal my stomach pain,” Mutebutsi told court. At the time of his arrest, Mutebutsi was found in possession of rolls of cannabis.
However, when the presiding judge asked him if a person, who prescribed him the medicine was a medical doctor, Mutebutsi said he didn’t know that the substance he was using was cannabis.
Prosecution requested a two-year sentence for Mutebutsi and a fine of Rwf200, 000.It also requested various sentences for other suspects, which are also below three years and various fines above Rwf50, 000.
The maximum sentence of anyone found guilty of consuming narcotic drugs, under article 594 of the penal code, is three years and a fine of Rwf500, 000.
The public trial of drugs suspects was also welcomed by teachers, students, motorists and parents, who said that it will send stern message to those involved.
“Narcotics are enemies to a human being. This trial is a good thing and as a school, we have also strengthened measures to protect pupils from such dangerous substances,” Oscar Mugenga, a primary six teacher at Kivugiza primary school said.
He urged students to shun narcotics, concentrate on studies and importantly share information with school administration about anyone involved in such acts.
Jean Damascene Bigirabagabo, a taxi motor operator in Nyamirambo also echoed the same message adding that drugs are “very dangerous to one’s health” and urged people involved in narcotics and illicit drugs to distance themselves from the life-harmful substance and engage in developmental activities.
He appealed to fellow motorcyclists to partner with security organs to ensure that crimes in general and drug dealings in particular, are prevented. Court adjourned the case to May 31, when the ruling will be read.


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