SAfrican court denies Rwandan bail, saying suspect offered $1 million bribe to police

Thursday, October 7, 2010

No bail for accused in Rwandan general shooting

JOHANNESBURG — One of the accused in the attempted murder of an exiled Rwandan general offered a $1 million bribe to police to release him upon arrest, a South African court said Thursday.

The court denied Pascal Kanyandekwe bail because of sworn affidavits from two police officers describing the offered bribe. The magistrate said if Kanyandekwe tried to avoid arrest, he may have intent to flee.

“The only intention that a person could have to offer $1 million to police would be to escape the consequences of a trial,” Magistrate P.J. du Plessis said. “It is clear that he has the means and mechanisms to flee the country if he wishes to do so.”

Kanyandekwe allegedly left South Africa after the attempt against exiled Rwandan Gen. Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa and was arrested at Johannesburg’s OR Tambo Airport upon his return, the magistrate said.

Nyamwasa has been in South Africa since reportedly falling out with Rwandan President Paul Kagame. Nyamwasa’s wife says Kagame was behind the June shooting of her husband in Johannesburg that left him with a bullet wound in the stomach. Rwanda’s government denies involvement.

The magistrate said he would not speculate whether the attempt was backed by the Rwandan government.

In Pretoria Thursday, South Africa’s foreign minister, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, refused to say whether South Africa suspected Rwanda had a hand in the attempt or whether it had formally discussed the matter with Rwanda.

“I don’t want to enter the court space,” she said.

South Africa recalled its ambassador to Rwanda in August and the envoy has yet to return, though foreign affairs officials say diplomatic ties remain intact.

Rwanda has accused Nyamwasa of trying to destabilize Kagame’s government and asked South Africa to send the general home on charges linked to grenade attacks in Rwanda’s capital earlier this year.

A total of 10 suspects have been arrested in the shooting and in a related alleged plot to kill Nyamwasa while he was recovering from the attack in the hospital.

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