afrol News, 28 June - Two persons have been arrested following last week's assassination of Rwandan dissident editor Jean Léonard Rugambage in Kigali. Authorities deny any involvement in the killing.
According to witnesses, two men had fired on Mr Rugambage in front of his home late Thursday, thus escaping in a car. The acting editor of 'Umuvugizi Newspaper' was shot dead as he drove through the gate of his home in the Rwandan capital, Kigali.
Rwanda national police spokesman Eric Kayiranga today informed that two persons have been arrested in connection with the assassination. Also the gun used to kill Mr Rugambage had been secured, according to a police statement.
The two arrested men are suspected of being the perpetuators of Thursday's killing. Their motive had not been political, Rwandan police maintain, but rather driven by revenge.
The police statement says Mr Rugambage was accused of having killed a relative of one of the suspected during Rwanda's 1994 genocide. The Rwandan editor earlier had been accused of genocidal crimes, but was acquitted by a local court in 2006.
Human rights and press freedom groups however accuse Rwandan authorities of plotting the assassination. They base their claims on the fact that 'Umuvugizi Newspaper' and its editor have been harassed and intimidated earlier by authorities. Press freedom in particular has been strongly limited ahead of the upcoming August elections.
Rwanda's Media High Council only in March suspended the right of 'Umuvugizi' to publish. Soon after, the newspaper moved online, but its website was made inaccessible to domestic visitors. Media watchdogs see this as proof of increased censorship, as 'Umuvugizi' was "one of the few critical voices in the country."
Mr Rugambage had reported to friends and colleagues that he was being followed and had received phone threats, local journalists told US media watchdog Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). The killing of Mr Rugambage "deals a savage blow to Rwanda's already beleaguered independent media," CPJ commented.
As the last 'Umuvugizi' journalist remaining in Rwanda, Mr Rugambage represented the newspaper in hearings in several court cases the newspaper is facing over its critical coverage of government affairs, according to local journalists.
'Umuvugizi' online was seen as the last critical media voice in Rwanda after government in March suspended the paper versions of 'Umuvugizi' and 'Umuseso'. These two main independent newspapers were suspended for six months for "inciting the police and army to insubordination, publication of information disturbing law and order, dissemination of rumours, as well as slander and interference in people's private lives".
Jean-Bosco Gasasira, the exiled editor of 'Umuvugizi' now living in the US, said he believed the killing was reprisal for a recent story alleging government involvement in the shooting of a former Rwandan army commander in South Africa on 19 June. Mr Rugambage had just published an article online, making the allegation.
Meanwhile, African editors mourn their Rwandan colleague as "a brilliant investigative journalist." The African Editors' Forum (TAEF) today demanded credible investigations into the "execution" of Mr Rugambage.
TAEF called for "the inclusion of independent investigators to allay the fears that the government of President Paul Kagame, which has been implicated in the murder, is not accused of white washing the investigation," a statement from the African editors said.
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