- Associated Press - Friday, January 24, 2020

KIGALI, Rwanda (AP) - An opposition politician in Rwanda who reportedly escaped prison in 2018 has been sentenced to 10 years for offenses related to forming an armed group and threatening state security.

Family and allies of Boniface Twagirimana, however, have disputed the official police version of his escape, arguing there is no way he could have slipped out of the high-security facility.

The 43-year-old was deputy leader of the FDU-Inkingi, an opposition party that has not been allowed to register with the government. He was arrested in 2017 and had been in prison on remand as investigations continued into his alleged offenses. The High Court’s chamber for international crimes sentenced him Thursday.

Opposition leader Victoire Ingabire, who has since quit FDU-Inkingi to form another political party, said Twagirimana’s family deserves to know the truth about his whereabouts.

“We are in touch with the Rwanda Investigation Bureau and until now it’s not known where he is. I suppose government knows,” Ingabire told The Associated Press.

Human Rights Watch also has questioned the official report of Twagirimana’s escape, saying forced disappearances are not new in the East African nation.

“Boniface was hoping that he would win his case in court, and he had been waiting for his release,” a family member told the human rights group. “Why would he then escape? Something terrible must have happened to him.”

Rwanda denies the accusation.

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