Rwanda delays verdict in 'attack plot' officer trial

Kigali - A Rwandan court on Friday said it would consider potential fresh evidence in the trial of an ex-army officer accused of plotting attacks on the state, delaying the expected verdict.

Joel Mutabazi, a former member of the presidential guard protecting Rwandan President Paul Kagame, fled the country in 2011 but was extradited by Ugandan authorities last year, despite criticism from rights groups.

Police have accused him and 15 other co-accused of being linked to a string of grenade attacks carried out in Rwanda, as part of the dissident Rwanda National Congress (RNC), in collaboration with the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR).

Judge Bernard Rugamba Hategekimana granted Friday requests by the defendants for further evidence to be considered.

"While reviewing the trial, the court found that the defendants requested some evidence, which we found important to analyse before a verdict is delivered," Hategekimana said.

Charges of terrorism

"The law allows the court to conduct investigations and come up with new evidence."

Mutabazi, whose trial opened in January, was indicted on charges of "terrorism, setting up an armed group, spreading rumours with the intention of inciting the public to rise up against the state, murder, crimes against the state and illegal possession of a firearm."

Military prosecution lawyers last month said they were seeking a life sentence for him.

A verdict had been initially expected on Friday. The next hearing is on 12 September.

The RNC, based between South Africa and the United States, is headed by defectors from Kagame's ruling party.

The FDLR are the Democratic Republic of the Congo-based descendants of the ethnic Hutu militia who carried out Rwanda's 1994 genocide.