ADEPR Pastors Denied Bail Again

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 By Daniel Sabiiti

Bishop Rwagasana and his co-accused six top leaders of Association des Eglises Pantecote au Rwanda – ADEPR suspected of embezzling church finances.

Embattled Pentecostal church leaders have denied charges of mismanaging billions church funds with an argument that their arrest was motivated by sabotage among prominent church members.

Six leaders from the top management of Association des Eglises Pantecote au Rwanda (ADEPR) appeared before the High Court to appeal a-30 days remand sentence handed by Gasabo intermediate court, last week.

The team was last month separately arrested over mismanagement of a huge bank loan amounting to Rwf3.2billion. They pleaded with the Gasabo intermediate court to grant them bail in vain.

In 2015, the church acquired a loan from Development Bank of Rwanda (BRD) “to fund a church development projects-including the ADEPR Hotel- which since then never matured and funds unaccounted for.

Prosecution said that accused team consistently collected tithes (equavelnt to Rwf3billion) from Christians to repay that bank loan but there was no clean track record of loan servicing.

Prosecution also stated that there is physical evidence to prove how the funds were misused for other purposes whenever cheques were signed and who authorized the transactions.

The accused team, led by Bishop Tom Rwagasana, a deputy spokesperson of the ADEPR, denied the allegations saying that there was no sufficient evidence to prove the allegations.

His co-accused include- Theophile Sindayigaya, senior spokesperson in charge of economy, Valens Gasana, Executive Treasurer, Christine Mutuyemariya, the Chief Finance Officer, Pastor Salton Niyitanga, the Special Secretary in office of Rwagasana, and Pastor Leonard Sebagabo, the ADEPR Secretary General.

Apparently Bishop Jean Sibomana, the ADEPR spokesman, who was recently arrested in relation to this case, didn’t appear in court alongside the other co-accused.

Taking most of the court fire, Bishop Rwagasana, said that the first ever church audit was done in 2016 since the establishment of ADEPR in 1940, with the intention to improve transparency.

Rwagasana argued that the allegations are motivated by internal and personal differences driven by some church members like Dr. Basabose and an ADEPR ‘revitalization commission.’

“The church has all the financial records of how church funds have been used. This whole case is a fabrication and blackmail,” Rwagasana told the judge.

Defending his bail appeal Rwagasana said that he is suffering from a severe back problem which has threatened his health ever since his arrest.

“I am sick and I don’t plan on escaping bail. I am a respectable person and I am ready to cooperate with the investigations but outside jail,” he said.

Christine Mutuyemariya, ADEPR CFO also said that there is evidence of how the church funds were used and how transactions were conducted in the accounts department.

However, the prosecution said that reasons presented for bail appeal were collective and not sufficient to legal bail the accused team, and pleaded with court to hold the suspects till further investigations are done.

Court will reconvene on June 1, 2017, to pronounce a decision on both arguments presented.

In the meantime, ADEPR elected a new team of leaders to replace the embattled one.

On May 30, 2017 ADEPR elected a new five-person Executive Bureau with Reverend Ephraim Karuranga as the new speaker of the church, alongside Aulerie Umuhoza who will serve as the senior spokesperson in charge of finance and Patrick Nsengiyumva was appointed as the new executive secretary, among others.

 

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