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After spending one year in a Rwandan prison waiting for the country’s high court to decide on her case, Diane Rwigara feared the worst.

The 37-year-old told Sky News: “I will just have to accept it and go to prison because I guess that is the price that you pay for freedom.”

The former financial accountant faced a 22-year spell in jail for “inciting insurrection” and “forgery” after she tried to run in last year’s presidential election against Rwanda’s long-time president Paul Kagame.

Her mother, Adeline, also faced a 22-year term after sending messages that were critical of the government on Whatsapp to her sister and a couple of her friends.

But in a surprise judgment, the court found that both members of the Rwigara family were innocent.

“All charges… have been dropped. The court finds that the prosecution charges were baseless,” said one member of the three-judge panel.

The activist ran for president in 2017
Image:
The activist ran for president in 2017

While the decision will come as a great relief to both women, it will not erase what the pair have been through.

Ms Rwigara’s difficulties began when she declared her candidacy in Rwanda’s 2017 presidential contest.

Her 44-year old campaign manager, Thadeyo Muyenzi, went missing and has still not been found.

Then, nude photos – purportedly of Ms Rwigara – were published and shared on social media.

Finally, the country’s election board banned her from participating after they accused her of forging people’s signatures in support of her bid. Kagame won a third term in office with 98% of the vote.

Paul Kagame is credited with creating stability in Rwanda - but has grown increasingly authoritarian
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Paul Kagame is credited with creating stability in Rwanda – but has grown increasingly authoritarian

Undeterred, the budding politician launched her own political party called the People Salvation Movement, but the police raided the family home – detained the accountant and her mother for the following 12 months.

Speaking to Sky News hours before the verdict was announced, Ms Rwigara said she was targeted by the state because she is prepared to challenge Kagame and his ruling clique.

She added: “This is what happens when you dare to have a different political opinion – a different view from those in the government.

“This is what happens if you don’t disappear like my campaign manager or get thrown into prison or lose your life. So yes, you do pay a price for speaking out in this country.”

Diane Rwigara was found innocent today
Image:
Diane Rwigara was found innocent by a Rwandan court

Paul Kagame, the country’s towering, beanpole-like president, has been widely praised for his role in providing stability and economic growth after Rwanda’s catastrophic genocide in 1994.

However, human rights groups and others have tired of his increasingly autocratic style.

Criticism of the government is rarely tolerated and in 2015, he engineered a constitutional amendment which means he can hold the presidency until 2034.

Amnesty International welcomed the court’s verdict on Diane and Adeline Rwigara but called on the Rwandan government to do more to protect freedom of expression and political debate: “[They] should never have faced charges for expressing their views.

“We call on the Rwandan authorities to build on this judgment and work towards developing greater tolerance and acceptance of alternative and critical views.”

Ms Rwigara, who is described as “fearless” by those close to her, is not about to apologise for attempting to hold Rwanda’s leaders to account. Nor is she likely to stop trying.

“I speak the truth, that the system is built on a lie,” she said. “They simply do not want to be exposed.

“The lie is that everything is well in Rwanda and I just talk about [the reality] which is the high level of unemployment, the high level of poverty, the disappearances, the killings, all that, and they are not ready for that to be exposed.”

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Deloitte Football Money League 2019: Real Madrid richest ahead of Barcelona and Manchester United | Business News

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Real Madrid have replaced Manchester United as the world’s wealthiest club, according to the latest Deloitte Football Money League.

Manchester United slipped into third spot after generating £590m – representing a comparatively low two per cent year-on-year increase.

Meanwhile, neighbours Manchester City retained their fifth-place ranking with revenues of £504m – an 11 per cent rise from 2016/17 figures.

Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich ranked fourth for a second year running with £557m, while Ligue 1 giants Paris Saint-Germain climbed one place into sixth spot on £480m.

Premier League leaders Liverpool recorded the biggest income increase from clubs in the top 10, with profits soaring 25 per cent to £455m, while Chelsea also achieved an impressive 22 per cent growth with £448m.

Manchester United have slipped to third
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Manchester United have slipped to third

Arsenal (£389m) dropped three places into ninth spot after missing out on Champions League football for the first time in 20 years, but narrowly trumped north London rivals Tottenham (£379m).

Everton (£189m), West Ham (£175m) and Newcastle (£179m) also made the top 20, with Rafa Benitez’s side recording a chart-topping 108 per cent increase in revenue – up from £86m in 2016/17.

Other clubs to make the annual index include Juventus (£350m), Borussia Dortmund (£281m), Atletico Madrid (£270m), Inter Milan (£249m), Roma (£222m), Schalke (£216m) and AC Milan (£184m).

Deloitte Football Money League 2019
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Deloitte Football Money League 2019

Dan Jones, head of the Sports Business Group at Deloitte, said: “Real Madrid’s outstanding financial performance in 2017/18 is built on their long history of success on the pitch, most recently three consecutive Champions League titles.

“This has enabled the club to continue to drive commercial revenue as the appetite to partner with Europe’s most successful clubs remains stronger than ever.”

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Five people killed in shooting at Florida bank | US News

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Five people have been killed at a bank in Florida after a gunman opened fire.

The gunman, identified as Zephan Xaver, 21, called police after firing shots inside the SunTrust bank in Sebring, Florida, and eventually surrendered.

Karl Hoglund, Sebring police chief, said the shooting happened at about 12.30pm ET (17.30GMT).

Xaver called police to tell them he had fired shots, according to authorities.

Negotiators failed to convince him to leave the bank, at which point the Highlands County Sheriff’s Office SWAT team entered the building and continued to speak to him.

He surrendered and is in custody. His motive is not clear.

Mr Hoglund said: “Today has been a tragic day in our community.

“We’ve suffered significant loss at the hands of a senseless criminal doing a senseless crime.”

No information has been released about the victims.

CNN reported there had been no danger to the surrounding areas.

Ron DeSantis, Florida governor, said he was asking the state department of law enforcement to help local police.

Sue Malliano, a spokesman for the SunTrust bank, said: “We are working closely with officials and seeking to take care of everyone affected at our Sebring, Florida branch.”

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Troops return to Bulawayo with a vengeance | World News

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A week of protest, violence and national trauma in Zimbabwe began last week in the country’s second largest city, Bulawayo.

It was here on the morning of 14 January that protesters took to the streets after President Emerson Mnangagwa’s administration raised fuel prices by 150%.

Seized with fury, demonstrators blocked roads and occupied neighbourhoods – and their protests would lead to city-wide looting and rioting.

Shops and business in large swathes of the city were destroyed or stripped bare. I asked the owner of one supermarket in an area called Nkeita what had happened to the police.

“They came late, they were late. Everything was gone when they got here,” he replied.

Business owners told me that they were abandoned by the police and the army for the first three or four days.

Former MP David Coltart thinks the authorities hand over Bulawayo to thugs
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Former MP David Coltart thinks the authorities handed over Bulawayo to thugs

Government critics, like lawyer and former opposition MP David Coltart, think that the authorities decided to hand over this independent-minded community to thugs and criminal elements.

More from Emmerson Mnangagwa

“I have seen the destruction of food outlets on an industrial scale.

“Having represented the people of Bulawayo for many years, I cannot believe the people themselves would have done this because they would have harmed themselves.

“Some 80% of food outlets in working class areas were destroyed. The capacity of these businesses to open again was effectively ended.”

Mass protests and violence in Zimbabwe started in the second largest city, Bulawayo
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Mass protests and violence in Zimbabwe started in the second largest city, Bulawayo

Zimbabwe’s president promised to prosecute members of the army or the police who were found guilty of misconduct.

Yet it is members of the public in Bulawayo who are now being rounded up and arrested as the authorities re-assert their control in the city.

Lawyers told us 500 people have been detained in the past few days. The city’s prisons, “are packed like sardines,” said one.

Noxola Maphosa's brother was arrested for trying to organise a protest but they keep trying to delay the trial date
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Noxola Maphosa’s brother was arrested for trying to organise a protest but they keep trying to delay the trial date

We found one woman called Noxolo Maphosa, outside the city’s stately magistrate’s court, carrying a toothbrush and some basic suppliers for her brother, Josephat.

Josephat Ngulube ran as a candidate in the last election but he was arrested over the weekend for trying to organise a protest.

“Now I don’t know what is going to happen to him,” said Ms Maphosa.

“I am just waiting for them to tell us what is going to happen but I don’t have hope. I thought we would get a trial date today but they keep on postponing. I am losing hope.”

The police and the members of the military are back on the streets and they are making their presence felt.

I heard and saw evidence of systematic raids and beatings carried out in the city’s suburbs.

Residents in an area called Marbutweni told us that troops turned up after 8pm on Tuesday and went door to door, administering beatings to men over the age of 14.

Clive showed the bruises from being beaten by troops
Image:
Clive showed his bruises from being beaten by troops
Clive said the troops asked him where he was coming from and nine men beat him with batons and more
Image:
Clive said the troops asked him where he was coming from and nine men beat him with batons and more

A resident called Clive showed us a series of blue marks and bruises covering his back, then turned around to address us in a quivering voice.

“I met those guys. ‘Where you coming from?’ (they said).

“I said ‘I am going home. It is after dark’.

“(They said) lie down and then nine guys were hitting me. Baton sticks and everything. Come on, is this Zimbabwe?”

We were given more testimony from a man called John, whose face was badly swollen.

“I was asking, ‘what did I do wrong?’ But they were continuously beating me and I don’t know what to do now because I am scared,” he told us.

These are arbitrary and unjustified attacks in a country led by a man – Emerson Mnangagwa – who is trying to sell it as a modern democracy. The people of Bulawayo are unlikely to forgive.

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