Jean de Dieu Maniriho, a dentist who worked for a private clinic in Musanze District, was acquitted of defilement and murder charges on Thursday, May 18, after nearly two and a half years of trial.
The High Court Chamber of Musanze ruled that Maniriho, who appealed a 25-year sentence rendered in July 2022, was not guilty of defiling, performing an illegal abortion on and then killing Emerance Iradukunda, a 17-year-old schoolgirl who went missing in November 2020.
Maniriho worked at Mpore Clinic in Musanze town and has been in custody since his arrest in November 2020.
Musanze Intermediate Court had found Maniriho guilty of defilement and dropped murder and abortion charges due to insufficient evidence. Prosecutors appealed the court decision to clear Maniriho of murder and abortion charges. The appeal hearing took place on May 2.
Iradukunda, who lived in Cyuve Sector of Musanze District, was found dead on a farmland in Gacaca Sector after going missing for days.
She was buried, but her body was exhumed days later at the requests of her family and local authorities, and sent to Rwanda Forensic Laboratory for DNA tests.
According to evidence presented in court by the prosecution, Iradukunda’s legs, arms and neck were tied with a plastic rope. Following Maniriho’s arrest, investigators searched his house and found pieces of a rope similar to the one that tied Iradukunda, a hammer and a mat stained in blood, where it was believed she was killed.
According to forensic evidence presented in court in June 2022, the blood sample collected from the mat contained DNA information of Maniriho and that of another person.
Maniriho’s DNA information made up the bigger part of the sample, but the other person could not be identified.
During investigation, Maniriho allegedly admitted to the accusations of defilement and performing an abortion on Iradukunda, but he denied all the charges when his trial began.
His defence team claimed the victim was not a minor and had not been pregnant, but the Intermediate Court said her birth documents proved she was 17 years of age.
According to the High Court’s decision on Thursday, Maniriho will be released from Musanze correctional facility where he was being held.