According to a judicial source and witnesses, prosecutors in Burundi have demanded a life sentence for former Prime Minister Alain-Guillaume Bunyoni, who has been on trial since September. The Supreme Court, which is convening at the prison in the political capital of Gitega where he is being held, has been hearing the case. Bunyoni served as prime minister from mid-2020 until September 2022, when he was dismissed less than a week after President Evariste Ndayishimiye warned of a possible “coup” against him.
The head of state accuses him of various crimes such as threatening his life, undermining national security, attempting to topple government institutions, destabilizing the economy, and illegal enrichment. Prosecutor, Jean-Bosco Bucumi, has requested a sentence of penal servitude for life as punishment for all these charges. Bucumi is also calling for a fine of around $2,500 and “damages equivalent to twice the value of the 153 houses and plots of land and the 43 vehicles belonging to him”.
A group of military leaders, commonly referred to as “the generals”, were known to hold the true political power in Burundi when Evariste Ndayishimiye was the internal security minister and police chief. One of the most prominent members of this group was Gervais Ndirakobuca, who is now standing trial along with six co-defendants. The charges against them have been refuted by Ndirakobuca, who pleaded not guilty and requested acquittal due to lack of evidence. The judge presiding over the case has stated that the verdict will be announced within 30 days.