Rwigara Family Timeline
1995 – 2014
Constant harassments and imprisonments of patriarch Assinapol Rwigara by the RPF (Rwandan Patriotic Front).
Assassination of Assinapol Rwigara.
Rwigara children request investigation into their father’s death and protection in letter addressed to President Kagame, to no avail. Subsequent months: various family-owned properties seized by authorities.
CID (Criminal Investigation Department) with scores of police officers invades the Rwigaras residence and arrest mother and son.
Demolition of family-owned 4-Star Hotel ‘Premier Hotel’ (worth nearly 50 million USD) on the basis of ‘weak structure’ and ‘invalid construction permit’. Despite family presenting all legal documents disproving those claims, authorities begin the destruction. Equipment and construction materials inside hotel pillaged at night by authorities. Demolition which was planned to take place over the weekend for duration of three days goes on for more than 1 month, as the building required very strong equipment to bring it down. During this time, all surrounding roads and businesses are closed and hotel site is hidden from public and media view.
Family files a court case against Prime Insurance which had refused since February 2015 to abide by contract of Assinapol Rwigara’s life insurance of close to USD 2 million. Majority of shares in this company have now been taken over by the RPF.
Authorities send the Rwigaras a bill of RWF 150 million (+/-180,000 USD) to pay for hotel destruction. Whereas all other Kigali factories are allowed to relocate, Rwigara’s Premier Tobacco Company Ltd, (PTC, Ltd) a business funded and owned by Assinapol Rwigara since the mid-1980s and one of the top 3 largest tax-payer companies in the country, is refused the right to relocate to the new industrial zone in Nyandungu (SEZ –Special Economic Zone). This abrupt decision takes place after more than 6 years of relocation planning on both the government and PTC side and 5 months away from completion of relocation project. Economic advantages granted to all Rwandan industries are suspended for Rwigara family businesses.
Assinapol Rwigara’s daughter, Diane Shima Rwigara, announces her intention to present her candidacy to the August 2017 presidential elections. 2 days after Diane’s announcement, nude photoshopped pictures of her are spread throughout East Africa’s social media. She is not phased out. She follows through with her campaign.
Despite fulfillment of all requirements, Diane Shima Rwigara is disqualified from the presidential race on grounds of insufficient signatures (requirement: 600 signatures / collected: more than 1200 signatures).
Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA) and Criminal Investigation Department (CID) invade Premier Tobacco Co. site, confiscate all office materials, demand payment of 6 billion RWF (more than 7 million USD) in tax penalties, and order closing of factory. No evidence to support those claims is brought forward. Company bank accounts are seized and all of PTC money is transferred to the central bank. RRA and CID place their own guards on PTC site.
a troop of 40 to 50 CID officials and Presidential Guards (most dressed in civilian clothes) invade the Rwigara home for many days, handcuff all family members, and take all money, phones, computers, and documents. Mother is injured in the brutal process. Adeline Rwigara and her daughters Diane and Anne are publicly accused by CID of tax evasion and forgery. No supporting legal documentation or formal charge is brought forward. The whole family is kept under house arrest by GP (Presidential Guard). Adeline, Diane, and Anne are subjected to daily interrogation (from 8 am to 2 am) by CID for 3 weeks.
During his speech at the swearing-in ceremony of the new cabinet, President of Rwanda Paul Kagame says: “Abo bantu birirwa banyereza imitungo y’abaturage barangiza bagasa n’ababyigambya. N’iyo waba warabaye cyangwa ngo warashatse kuba perezida w’igihugu bikakunanira, ntabwo biguha ubudahangarwa. Ubwo abumva barumva icyo mvuga.” (“There are people who are always stealing the people’s wealth, then seem to brag about it. Even if you have been or have wanted to become president of the country, you are not immune from prosecution. Those who are listening better be hearing me.”). The President was openly and prematurely accusing Diane and her family and ordering the Rwandan courts to prosecute them. September: all other Rwigara family businesses and personal bank accounts are closed and all money is taken. Those businesses include a cosmetic and packaging factory, a flour processing plant, and a real estate company. All banks are instructed to list the accounts with a negative amount of RWF 6 billion (amount equivalent to supposed PTC due tax).
Adeline, Diane, and Anne are officially arrested, separately kept in solitary confinement for more than a month, and endure psychological torture. Adeline is charged with discrimination, sectarian practices, and inciting public insurrection. Diane is charged with forgery of signatures and inciting public insurrection. Anne is charged with inciting public insurrection. No tax evasion charge. All charges based on illegally seized private communication with other family members and fabricated documents by authorities.
Rwigara trial (bail hearing) begins.
only Anne is granted bail. Article of Rwandan law used by Judges to grant her bail is the same one used to deny it to her mother Adeline. Both Anne and Adeline faced the same charge. Adeline and Diane are transferred to the central maximum security prison. November: After her release, Anne Rwigara, as the head of the family business PTC, starts negotiations with RRA in hope of getting the business reopened. As negotiations are ongoing, RRA publicly announces that it will auction off all properties and assets belonging to the Rwigara family. Family was not informed and learned of it through media. PTC represented by the Rwigara family takes RRA to court over unfounded tax charges. December: appeal for bail by Adeline and Diane is denied. They remain in prison. December 14: at the 30th anniversary celebration of the RPF, the party in power, President Kagame (who is also chairman of the party) gives a speech in which he directly refers to Diane and her presidential candidacy. The president states that she had been used by outside enemy forces and that her imprisonment is deserved.
PTC v. RRA trial set to start in April 2018. PTC files court junction stating that RRA broke the law in its procedure against the company and demands that RRA returns to PTC office documents and computers, opens bank accounts and warehouses, and allows company to continue its operations.
PTC’s junction is refused by court. Rwigaras appeal. Appeal is denied.
January – March
RRA and other Rwandan authorities regularly pass by PTC premises to take photographs of all assets on site.
RRA forcibly breaks all PTC padlocks and violently orders PTC security agents to leave the site. No one but RRA agents and its security is allowed on the premises.
Despite tax case still pending in court, RRA makes public announcement that PTC finished products will be auctioned on March 28 2018. Once again, family was not formally informed. Immediately after RRA auction announcement, the family files a court junction to stop the illegal auction.
Premier Tobacco Company Ltd’s finished products are auctioned at RWF 523 million (half the actual market value of the products). The company representative, Anne Rwigara, refuses the bid price, as allowed by law –where in a first-round auction, the owner of auctioned goods or properties is allowed to refuse a price following which the auction is immediately postponed to take place 15-days after the first auction. All of this is immediately dismissed and auction is concluded. No letter or legal document was ever presented by RRA in order to claim any of the Rwigara assets, including PTC. As of April 19th, Adeline and Diane remain in prison.
Diane and Adeline’s first trial date is set for May 7 2018.
Scheduled auction of PTC machinery and equipment postponed after Rwigara family demands to make their own counter-valuation, as allowed by law. RRA had conducted their valuation of PTC without informing the family. The auction is set for June 18. The family is only given one week to prepare their counter valuation. During that week, the family and its valuators are not allowed on PTC premises and are refused access to documents and machinery necessary in conducting a proper valuation.
Adeline and Diane defense team asks the court to try the other four co-accused separately. Prosecution states that those co-accused, who all live abroad, have to be summoned. Judge postpones court date to July 24, so as to allow prosecution to call them. It is important to note that the prosecution has had 8 months to summon them.
Auction of PTC machinery and equipment. The value given to the assets by RRA is much lower than the actual value. Anne Rwigara, as company Managing Director, refuses the bid price, as allowed by law –where in a first-round auction, the owner of auctioned goods or properties is allowed to refuse a price following which the auction is immediately postponed to take place 15-days after the first auction. All of this is immediately dismissed and auction is concluded.
Supporting documentation available for reference and review.