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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
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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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Chernobyl beats Game Of Thrones and Breaking Bad to top IMDB TV chart | Ents & Arts News

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New TV series Chernobyl has quickly become the top-rated show on entertainment website IMDB, jumping ahead of long-running fan favourites shows such as Game Of Thrones, Breaking Bad and The Wire.

The five-part Sky Original series is a chilling dramatisation of the 1986 nuclear disaster in Ukraine and its aftermath, following the stories of those affected by the explosion as well as those in charge of the operation.

Starring Jared Harris, Stellan Skarsgard, Emily Watson and Jessie Buckley, the show has received widespread critical acclaim and a host of five-star reviews since its debut on Sky Atlantic and NOW TV on 7 May.

Almost two million people tuned in to watch the first episode.



Meet the brave men and women who made incredible sacrifices to save Europe from unimaginable disaster. Premiers 7 May.







Watch the trailer for Chernobyl

And in less than three weeks, Chernobyl has jumped to the top of the charts on film and TV internet database IMDB, peaking with a score of 9.7 out of 10.

Currently, it is scoring 9.5 – placing it joint top alongside the 2016 David Attenborough series Planet Earth II – from almost 40,000 ratings.



jared harris







Jared Harris: Chernobyl is still relevant today

Game Of Thrones, which has more than 1.5 million ratings, Breaking Bad (1.2 million), Band Of Brothers (316,000) and the first Planet Earth series (147,000) all score 9.4, while The Wire and Our Planet score 9.3.

Speaking about Chernobyl’s success, Sky’s director of programmes Zai Bennett said: “This jaw-dropping Sky Original is gripping viewers across the UK and beyond for good reason – the writing and production are second to none, and the story is both fascinating and utterly tragic.

“This is must-watch TV, and we’re delighted that audiences are enjoying it as much as we are.”

:: Chernobyl airs on Sky Atlantic and NOW TV on Tuesdays, with the fourth episode coming up on 28 May

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One Irishman killed on Everest and another missing | World News

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An Irish man is among eight people who have been killed scaling Mount Everest in the last week, while another Irish climber is missing

Kevin Hynes, 56, died in his tent in the early hours of Friday at a height of 7,000m, after deciding to turn back before reaching the summit.

The father-of-two had texted friends the day before to say the expedition was “proving the most fun he had had”.

His death comes a week after fellow Irishman Seamus Lawless, from Bray, Co Wicklow, fell as he was descending from the peak, having achieved his “lifelong dream” to scale the mountain.

A search operation was launched to find Mr Lawless, but his family said in a statement on Friday the mission had been called off due to adverse weather.

The statement read: “While the experienced search team has made every effort to locate Shay, the extremes of operating at high altitude and the sheer range of the search area ultimately proved too difficult and based on expert advice we have decided to call off the search rather than risk endangering anyone’s life in the treacherous conditions.”

The family said donations made to a GoFundMe page which had been set up to assist the search would be refunded.

Project Possible Credit: @nimsdai/Project Possible
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Queues of people wait to get to the summit of Everest Pic: @nimsdai/Project Possible

Eight people have died climbing Everest in the last week, amid fears that a traffic jam of mountaineers is making the journey more treacherous.

Kevin Hynes was described by his UK-based climbing company 360 Expeditions as “one of the strongest and most experienced climbers” on their team.

He was travelling with a group from 360 Expeditions as they attempted to reach the summit of the world’s highest mountain, but had turned back on Thursday accompanied by experienced Sherpa Dawa Sangee.

The Department of Foreign Affairs said it was aware of reports of the death of an Irish citizen on Mount Everest and was “ready to provide consular assistance”.

Mr Hynes leaves behind his wife Bernadette and two children, Erin and James.

Others who have died in the last week include two Indian climbers, Kalpana Das, 52, and Nihal Bagwan, 27, who died on Thursday while descending the peak.

A 65-year-old Australian died on the same day on the northern Tibet side of the mountain.

Tour organiser Keshav Patel said: “He (Bagwan) was stuck in the traffic for more than 12 hours and was exhausted.

Sherpas currently have to haul recovered rubbish through the dangerous Khumbu icefall
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Eight people have died while climbing Everest in the last week

“Sherpa guides carried him down to Camp 4 but he breathed his last there.”

Among the other fatalities were American Donald Cash, 55, who collapsed at the summit as he was taking photographs, and Anjali Kulkarni, 55, who died on her way down.

Ms Kulkarni’s expedition organiser, Arun Treks, said heavy traffic at the summit had delayed her descent and caused the tragedy.

“She had to wait for a long time to reach the summit and descend,” said Thupden Sherpa.

“She couldn’t move down on her own and died as Sherpa guides brought her down.”

An Indian and an American lost their lives on the mountain on Wednesday.

Nepal has issued a record 381 permits costing $11,000 (£8,600) each for the current spring climbing season.

It comes as record-breaking climber Nirmal Purja posted an image from his latest expedition showing “traffic” on the world’s highest peak.

He is attempting to climb the 14 mountains higher than 8,000 metres in just seven months.

Project Possible will see him smash the current world record for one individual which stands at seven years, 11 months and 14 days.

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Everest ‘traffic’ blamed for deaths of climbers on overcrowded mountain | World News

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Eight people have died climbing Everest in the last week amid fears that a traffic jam of mountaineers is making the journey more treacherous.

Two Indian climbers, Kalpana Das, 52, and Nihal Bagwan, 27, died on Thursday while descending the peak.

A 65-year-old Australian died on the same day on the northern Tibet side of the mountain.

Tour organiser Keshav Patel said: “He (Bagwan) was stuck in the traffic for more than 12 hours and was exhausted.

“Sherpa guides carried him down to Camp 4 but he breathed his last there.”

Sherpas currently have to haul recovered rubbish through the dangerous Khumbu icefall
Image:
Eight people have died while climbing Everest in the last week

Among the other fatalities were American Donald Cash, 55, who collapsed at the summit as he was taking photographs, and Anjali Kulkarni, 55, who died on his way down.

Ms Kulkarni’s expedition organiser, Arun Treks, said heavy traffic at the summit had delayed her descent and caused the tragedy.

“She had to wait for a long time to reach the summit and descend,” said Thupden Sherpa.

“She couldn’t move down on her own and died as Sherpa guides brought her down.”

An Indian and an American lost their lives on the mountain on Wednesday, while an Irish professor, Séamus Lawless, is presumed dead after falling last week.

Nepal has issued a record 381 permits costing $11,000 (£8,600) each for the current spring climbing season.

It comes as record-breaking climber Nirmal Purja posted an image from his latest expedition showing “traffic” on the world’s highest peak.

He is attempting to climb the 14 mountains higher than 8,000 metres in just seven months.

Project Possible will see him smash the current world record for one individual which stands at seven years, 11 months and 14 days.

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