Bamporiki graft case: What the law says about house arrest

Edouard Bamporiki, former Minister of State in the Ministry of Youth and Culture. Courtesy Photo

President Paul Kagame on Thursday suspended Edouard Bamporiki, Minister of State in the Ministry of Youth and Culture, from his duties owing to matters of accountability under investigation.

A professional filmmaker, actor and poet, Mr. Bamporiki was appointed Minister of state in 2019.

He was the Chairman of National Itorero Commission prior to his appointment, and a member of Parliament from 2013 until 2017.

It was not immediately clear what specifically led to his sacking but hours after his suspension was made public through a communiqué signed by Prime Minister Edouard Ngirente, Rwanda Investigation Bureau (RIB) announced that Bamporiki is held “under house arrest, being investigated for serious cases of corruption.”

No further details were shared about the alleged crimes, when and how they were committed.

However, the announcements did not take many by surprise. Unconfirmed reports had been making rounds on social media for the better part of the Thursday suggesting that State Minister and a municipality official had been arrested.

House arrest vs standard incarceration

According to legal experts house arrest implies the suspect is confined to his or her home and is subjected to certain requirements/restrictions. Details of Mr. Bamporiki’s terms of house arrest were not made public.

What the law says

However, provisions of the 2019 law relating to the criminal procedure state that during investigation, the investigator or prosecutor may release a suspect but instruct him or her to comply with a set of conditions.

This can happen even if the investigator or prosecutor believes that there are serious grounds to suspect that the suspect committed or attempted to commit the offence.

The conditions include: to reside in a territorial jurisdiction of the authority who subjected him or her to certain conditions; prohibition from going to or going beyond a prescribed area without prior authorization from the authority who subjected him or her to certain conditions, as well as to refrain from going to a given area or not to be in a given place at a given time.

Others are to report to a specified authority in a prescribed period of time; to report whenever required to do so; to be monitored through technology, and to surrender his/her identification papers to a prescribed authority, among others.

Arrest and detention

The provisions on arrest and detention indicate that a suspect normally remains free during investigation.

He or she may be held in provisional detention if there are sufficient grounds to believe that he or she committed an offence which is punishable with imprisonment for a term of at least two years.

However, even if the penalty provided for is less than two years but not less than six months, the investigator or prosecutor may provisionally detain the suspect if there is reason to believe that the suspect may evade justice such as in cases when the identity of the suspect is unknown or doubtful.

Provisional detention also applies when it is the only way to prevent the suspect from disposing of evidence or exerting pressure on witnesses and victims or prevent collusion between the suspect and their accomplices.

The other reason is when such detention is the only way to protect the accused, to ensure that the accused appears before judicial organs whenever required or to prevent the offence from continuing or reoccurring.

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