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Cablegate: Ex-Party Strongman Radjabu Gets 13 Year Sentence

VZCZCXYZ0002
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHJB #0177 0951252
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 041252Z APR 08
FM AMEMBASSY BUJUMBURA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0877
INFO RUEHXR/RWANDA COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

UNCLAS BUJUMBURA 000177

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR AF/C

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM PINR PREL BY
SUBJECT: EX-PARTY STRONGMAN RADJABU GETS 13 YEAR SENTENCE

REF: 07 BUJUMBURA 376

1. (U) In an April 3 decision, the Supreme Court sentenced
former party president of the ruling National Council for the
Defense of Democracy - Forces for the Defense of Democracy
(CNDD-FDD) Hussein Radjabu to 13 years in prison for intent
to disrupt state security through armed rebellion and
insulting President Nkurunziza (reftel). Police arrested
Radjabu in April 2007 after a local radio station broadcast
alleged recordings of the former "power behind the throne"
encouraging demobilized soldiers to overthrow the government.
The voice on the recordings refers to President Nkurunziza
as an "empty bottle." The case was closely followed by the
international community, and the court rendered a judgment
only one day after the 60 day limit imposed by Burundian law.
Radjabu can appeal the ruling to another chamber of the
Supreme Court for a final judgment within thirty days.

2. (SBU) COMMENT: A sentence of 13 years is harsher than
most observers expected. After following the highly
transparent court case attentively, most media and members of
the international community found the prosecution's case
weak. Reports from the local community allege that President
Nkurunziza's administration used its influence to further
sideline the high-profile and divisive Radjabu, at least
until the conclusions of elections in 2010. END COMMENT.
MOLLER

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