Violence stemming from the disputed 29 June 20151, 21 July 20152 and 24 July 20153 elections continues to be recorded in Burundi. Civilians, political activists, human rights defenders, ruling party affiliates, opposition political parties continue to operate under difficult conditions including arrests, torture, disappearances and extra judicial killings. In his first quarterly report, the Minister of Security, Mr. Alain Guillaume Bunyoni stated that during the period under report, 46 persons were killed including 8 policemen and 2 soldiers and 215 wounded whereas 112 grenade attacks were recorded and 150 rebels arrested.
Alleged coup plotters denied fair trial
Twenty one (21) policemen and soldiers were prosecuted for the 13 May 2015 coup attempt, among whom, General Cyrille Ndayirukiye, former Minister of Defense of Burundi who confessed to have organized “the action for the purpose of protecting the Arusha peace Agreement”. He is frequently presented as the second individual that planned and executed the attempted coup. Attorneys including Belgian Bernard Maingain and Burundians Onésime Kabayabaya and Lambert Nsabimana that assisted the accused from May 2015 were informed of the existence of criminal charges against them for they were absent to the 14 December 2015 public hearing. From then on, the lawyers were unable to assist their clients and the Court appointed attorneys on their behalf. The accused persons rejected the offer for court assigned attorneys as they are entitled the right to freely choose and appoint legal counsel. The Burundi penal code provides for an accused persons’ right to be assisted by an attorney of one’s choice and to remain silent in absence of one’s attorney. In matters of which the accused may be sentenced to more than 20 years of imprisonment, the assistance by an attorney is mandatory.