Burundian Human rights activist Germain Rukuki who was jailed for 32 years after protesting against late president Pierre Nkurunziza has had his sentence reduced to just one year, a judicial source confirms.
The verdict was announced just as Burundi’s EU ambassador said the bloc was considering lifting sanctions imposed on the country after a deadly political crisis in 2015.
Germain Rukuki was one of thousands arrested for protesting against then president Pierre Nkurunziza’s contentious third term bid. He was handed one of the heaviest sentences in Burundi’s human rights history.
Following the sudden death of Nkurunziza and after President Evariste Ndayishimiye took office, his ruling was quashed last year by Burundi’s Supreme Court.
Armel Niyongere, head of the human rights group Acat Burundi said that Rukuki had been re-tried at an appeals court in March.
“It delivered its verdict by reducing his sentence to one year in prison and a fine of $24 for ‘rebellion’…We’re waiting for Rukuki, who has already served his sentence, to be released immediately,” Niyongere said.
The verdict was announced just moments after Ndayishimiye met with Burundi’s EU ambassador Claude Bochu on Monday.
Bochu stated that it was considering lifting sanctions because of “positive developments initiated by the president in terms of good governance, rule of law and human rights.”
Ndayishimiye’s election last year has raised hopes for a more open political engagement after many years of repression and violence in the troubled East African nation.
Amnesty International has raised intensive campaign against Rukuki’s unjust incarceration. One of such included its annual “Write for Rights” letter-writing campaign.