Kigali – A Rwandan court on Friday sentenced a former minister to a four-year jail term and a hefty fine after being found guilty of accepting a bribe.
Edouard Bamporiki, a vocal politician and former minister for youth and culture, was facing charges of pocketing a five million Rwandan francs ($4,800) bribe from a businessman to facilitate the reopening of his factory shut by Kigali city authorities.
“The court finds that Bamporiki accepted… the so-called token of appreciation for his services. Accepting to receive this money even if it is not directly labelled a bribe, is a bribe,” high court judge Adolphe Udahemuka said in delivering the sentence.
The 39-year-old, who was not present in the Kigali high court, was given a prison sentence of four years and a fine of $58,000.
“In rendering this verdict, the court took into consideration the fact that Bamporiki admitted to the crime and asked for forgiveness,” the three-judge panel said.
Prosecutors had asked for the maximum sentence of 20 years.
He has 30 days to appeal.
Bamporiki has been under house arrest since May when he was sacked by President Paul Kagame to allow for investigations into the graft allegations.
A former actor, he became a household name in the East African country, starring and directing popular movies and movies themed around the 1994 Rwandan genocide.
He was elected to parliament in 2013 and appointed as a minister six years later.
Kagame, who has ruled the East African country since 1994, rejected Bamporiki’s public apology, instead sending a warning shot to other corrupt leaders.
“Always doing wrong and asking for forgiveness! That’s the case with Bamporiki. There are others like him. Anyone can commit a crime but it is also possible to avoid committing crimes. Punishment helps too!!!” Kagame wrote on Twitter.