Rwandan gospel icon who died in detention had injuries on his face - witnesses
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Rwandan gospel singer and government critic Kizito Mihigo was buried Saturday in Kigali. Mihigo died last Monday while in police detention in what authorities labelled an apparent suicide.
According to local media reports and the accounts of witnesses who attended the funeral, three injuries were visible on Mihigo's head; one of the front and two others on the face.
Kizito’s body was allegedly kept under wraps and no one was allowed to touch or see it before his burial, according Tomas Nahimana, an exiled Rwandan Catholic priest.
The Catholic Church does not allow members who took their own lives to be buried out of their churches, yet Kizito was given a funeral mass which was attended by more than 2000 Christians and friends, and more than 20 priests.
“When I learned that he was going to get Catholic mass and benediction, I realized that he had not committed suicide, because the Catholic Church does not allow that. But when I realized he had injuries on his face, I concluded that things did not happen as the Rwanda Investigation Bureau said it did,” Jean Damascene Murengerantwari, one of the mourners said.
Reports from Ishema TV, an online channel, concur. Its reporter, Cyuma Hassan Dieudonné, said he saw injuries on the face of Kizito.
“He was a God-fearing man. He was aware of the importance of life. He was asked several times to be used to kill opponents but he refused. It was not possible for him to commit suicide,” Nahimana said.
Some people in Rwanda allege that Mihigo was killed by individuals who don’t want to see Rwanda’s ethnic groups reconciled, especially the Hutus and Tutsis. The genocide that claimed lives of more than 800 000 Tutsis and some moderate Hutus in 1994 has been widely condemned.
Mihigo was orphaned in the genocide which claimed the life of his father, and forced him into exile in Burundi. However, he said that he was aware that not all Hutus were bad and that some of them lost loved ones and need also to be recognized as victims of crimes that were committed during the war.
These statements led to a breakdown in relations between Mihigo and the government, and he was jailed from 2015 until 2018. He was also accused of being in touch with RNC members, an opposition party led by Kayumba Nyamwasa, who is exiled in South Africa.