Rwanda: 14 Arrested for Economic Sabotage
The New Times (Kigali)
12 October 2008
Posted to the web 13 October 2008
Fourteen people including government employees and district leaders have been arrested and will soon appear in court for diverting fertilizers meant for increasing production in the country side.
27 others are being investigated to ascertain whether they also took part in the illegal selling of fertilizers.
Sources from Prosecutors General's office say some fertilizer thieves have already fled the country and police are contacting Interpol to have them apprehended.
It adds that fertilizers given to farmers by the government was being sold to neighboring countries.
"The culprits on conviction face five to 20 years' imprisonment," reveals deputy Prosecutor General Alphonse Hitiyaremye, adding, "Even their accomplices will not be spared."
Last week, police and officials from the Ministry of Agriculture warned farmers and district leaders against selling the fertilizers. Sources say fertilizers are sold to Burundi, Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania.
"It's a pity that government labors so much to provide fertilizers and instead of improving the crops here, other people benefit," said Hitiyaremye.
Addressing journalists at the Prosecutor General's office in Kimihurura last week, the acting Commissioner General of Police, Mary Gahonzire, warned that those found in illegal possession of fertilizers will be prosecuted.
"We have been asked to track these thieves. The public should stand warned," Gahonzire said.
The State Minister for Agriculture, Agnes Karibata, said that the ministry had put in place clear measures to distribute subsidized fertilizers to all farmers especially those growing rice and maize.
She revealed that some people had been contracted to supply fertilisers to the farmers. The arrests come a year after the ministry unearthed a scam involving theft of the country's fertilizers to Burundi by businessman living in Kigali.
According to Prosecutor General Martin Ngoga, fertilizer thieves will be charged with economic sabotage.
Recently, an employee of the Ministry of Agriculture, Innocent Bikoro Bukuru, was arrested after he was discovered trying to sell two tonnes of this season's fertilizers illegally.
Biroko was arrested at Nyabugogo trying to sell the 2.5 tonnes of fertilizers to a businessman identified as Appolinaire Bicamumacumu.
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