Makamba : a wave of arrests among traders

Makamba : a wave of arrests among traders

Thirty judgments were made in less than a week, in in swift trial, against traders in the province of Makamba (southern Burundi) a source at the provincial prosecutor’s office, said. Defendants were charged of “harming the national economy and rebellion against government measures”. Most of them pleaded guilty. INFO SOS Médias Burundi

Seven merchants appeared on Tuesday afternoon in flagrante delicto trials at the Makamba High Court.

One was accused of fraudulently importing mobile phones and their accessories from Tanzania, another was prosecuted for speculating on the prices of drinks from Brarudi (Brasserie et limonaderie du Burundi).

Five other defendants were all charged with illegal sale of fertilizers.

One trader denied the charges of the public prosecutor’s office on the sale of fertilizers as others pleaded guilty.

After the public hearing, the prosecutor requested a prison sentence ranging from 3 to 5 years and a fine of one million Burundian francs for each. Seized goods should be entrusted to the State’s property.

According to sources at the Makamba prosecutor’s office, 6 traders appeared last Friday and 13 others on Monday.

All are prosecuted for “harming the national economy and rebelling against government measures” for having speculated on Brarudi products, illegal sales of fertilizers or petroleum products from neighboring Tanzania.


According to traders contacted, the judicial and police authorities “use these offenses to collect bribes”.

“By appearing before judges, these traders are ordered to pay bribes ranging from 500 thousand to one million to certain police authorities so that they are released”, reveal sources close to the file.

Once at the prosecution’s office, the same scenario is happening with the prosecutor and the president of the high court.

“They ask them for bribes equivalent to that required by the police so that they can escape imprisonment ranging from 3 to 5 years in accordance with the penal code”, insisted witnesses.

The defendants who pay these bribes appear in judgments in flagrante but after deliberation they are released though they must pay fines of around 200,000 francs.

Breach of the law

Several sources within the judiciary claim that these flagrant judgments violate the Burundian penal code.

Such judgments normally take place 48 hours after the arrest of the person concerned.

“However, most of the defendants exceed two weeks in detention before being judged”, reveal judicial sources on condition of anonymity said.

“All this time is reserved for the search for bribes by the judicial and police authorities”, sources close to the police and the prosecution testify.

Authorities cited in this case were not available to react to these allegations.

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