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|KIGALI Cameron Brate Jersey , Jan. 22 (Xinhua) -- A Rwandan court Thursday handed two former Rwanda Police officers 20 years in jail after finding them guilty of murdering an anti-corruption campaigner who was killed while investigating mineral smuggling from neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo).
Gustave Makonene, former coordinator for anti-corruption body Transparency International, was found dead in July 2013 in Rubavu, western Rwanda near the border with eastern Congo.
Rubavu High Court found Corporals Nelson Iyakaremye and Isaac Ndabarinze guilty of murder of Makonene.
His body was found by residents on the shores of Lake Kivu a day after his death.
Ndabarinze was arrested in Kigali last September, while his co- accused was serving a sentence after he was arrested and charged with mineral smuggling.
The suspects killed Makonene because he was aware that the two men were involved in mineral smuggling from DR Congo to Rwanda, the prosecutor Vincent Niyonzima told court during the trial.
Niyonzima said the deceased had told the two men to stop their activities.
Delivering the verdict, presiding judge Esron Gashyende said while the crime attracted life sentence the convicts received lighter sentences because they pleaded guilty to the charges and eased investigations.
The duo never complicated the case and will not pay any indemnity, he said.
Reacting to the ruling, Transparent International Rwanda staff and the deceased's family members said they were surprised by the ' light' verdict.
"We followed the case but we were surprised by the court's decision, the judiciary has its independence but the sentence is lenient..we shall sit with the deceased family and see if we can appeal," Apollinaire Mupiganyi, the executive director of Transparency International Rwanda told journalists.
Prosecution had asked for life jail term due to the gravity of the crime which it said was well planned before being executed.
Both suspects testified during the trial that they planned to kill the anti-graft activist because he was an obstacle to their business.
They recounted how they led the victim from a local bar- handcuffed and bundled him into a car before strangling him.
The men requested court for forgiveness and a light sentence since they pleaded guilty to the charges.
Eastern DR Congo is rich in minerals such as tin, tungsten and tantalum but smuggling has thrived because Kinshasa government has little control over a big region fought over by various militia and rebel groups for decades.
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