Rwandan President Paul Kagame has pardoned the proprietor of the defunct Christian University of Rwanda, Damien Habumuremyi, who was in 2020 handed a three-year prison sentence for issuing cheques to service providers.
Habumuremyi, who served as prime minister, was arrested early in July 2020 along with the university’s director of finance, Charles Serushyana, who was later acquitted, for issuing bad cheques and for failing to pay the teaching and administrative staff of the Christian University of Rwanda.
He also was fined RWF892.2 million (US$907,000).
However, according to a statement issued on Wednesday night after a Cabinet sitting chaired by President Kagame at Urugwiro, the government announced that Habumuremyi was forgiven.
“Pursuant to the powers conferred upon him, His Excellency the President of the Republic granted pardon to Mr Pierre Damien Habumuremyi,” reads a communique released by the Prime Minister’s office.
The statement does not explain how Habumuremyi was pardoned.
The practice is that the offender writes an apology to the president, seeking forgiveness.
Habumuremyi had, according to the prosecution, admitted to issuing bounced cheques of RWF170 million (about US$177,000) to people on behalf of the university.
Habumuremyi denied the charges, alleging that the cheques were issued only as proof that the university could be entrusted to pay the creditors in the future and were not intended for immediate withdrawal.
All explanations were rejected by the court, which ruled that, as the accused knew that what he did was illegal, he should account for it.
Habumuremyi was sacked in July 2014 over alleged incompetence and replaced with Anastase Murekezi – the then Minister of Public Service and Labour.
Habumuremyi, who had served as Premier since 2011, had fallen out of the establishment’s favour.
As the relations with the presidency deteriorated, Habumuremyi refused to appear before Parliament to explain critical government activities.
Parliament called him twice but did not honour the invitations.
The August House wrote to the President expressing frustrations over the PM’s conduct, leading to his removal from office.
At the time, Habumuremyi, who had earlier served as Education Minister, was linked to subversive elements in the diaspora, claims he vehemently denied.
In December 2014, Habumuremyi was summoned to a meeting of Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) top brass where he apologised for his alleged misdeeds.
In February 2015, Haburemyi, was appointed head of the Chancellery for Heroes, National Orders and Decorations of Honour (Cheno),
Five years later, Haburemyi was arrested over bounced cheques and jailed. With Kagame exercising his prerogative of mercy, Habumuremyi is expected to leave prison soon.