Rwanda shooting suspects on trial
Four men accused of trying to kill ex-army chief appear in a South Africa court.
Last Modified: 29 Jun 2010 16:09 GMT
Nyamwasa, accused of terrorism in Rwanda, was shot in South Africa where he was living in exile [AFP]

Four men accused of trying to kill a Rwandan ex-army chief living in exile in the South African city of Johannesburg have appeared briefly in court.

Prosecutors said on Tuesday that the men arrested over the attempted assassination were from Tanzania, Somalia and Mozambique but refused to say how long the suspects have been in South Africa.

Lieutenant General Kayumba Nyamwasa, who has been accused of terrorism in his homeland, was shot in the stomach earlier this month but is expected to recover.

Court records identified the four suspects as Juma Huseni, a 35-year-old Tanzanian, Ahmed Ali, a 26-year-old Somali, George Francis, a 31-year-old Mozambican and Shafiri Bakari, a 30-year-old Tanzanian.

Three of the suspects said they have asylum status in South Africa.

Govindsamy Mariemuthoo, a police spokesman, refused to disclose a possible motive until the suspects made their next court appearance.

Court officials said that the next court appearance is July 14, in order to give investigators time to determine the suspects' immigration status.

Police last week dropped attempted murder charges against two others who were also arrested after the shooting.

Political rivalry

Nyamwasa and his wife were returning to the upscale gated community where they live in northern Johannesburg when a lone armed man firedat him on June 19.

Nyamwasa's wife Rosette has accused Paul Kagame, the Rwandan president, of being behind the shooting.

Nyamwasa and Kagame were once allied but have fallen out, reportedly because Kagame sees his former military chief as a political rival.

Reporters Without Borders, a global media rights group, also alleged that the Tutsi-led government was cracking down on any opposition ahead of the presidential elections scheduled for August.

The recent murder of Jean-Leonard Rugambage,the deputy editor of the independent newspaper Umuvugizi, triggered allegations of a crackdown on the country's media and political opposition.

Human rights groups have criticised the government for planning the August polls while no significant opposition to Kagame's ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) is in place.

Government response

Rwandan officials have accused Nyamwasa of trying to destabilise their government.

The Rwandan government says it has linked Nyamwasa to three grenade attacks in the country's capital on February 19 that killed one person and wounded 30 others.

South African police said earlier this year they had not arrested Nyamwasa because they do not have an extradition treaty with Rwanda.

Louise Mushikiwabo, Rwanda's minister of foreign affairs, said Rwanda does not kill its own people.

"There is this whole psyche that there is a crackdown in Rwanda, that tensions are reigning," Mushikiwabo said.

"People are taking advantage of the forthcoming elections to project this kind of situation, but I can assure you that the situation is created."

Al Jazeera and agencies
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