Rwanda: Gospel singer Kizito Mihigo, who was found guilty
in 2015 of plotting to kill President Paul Kagame, has been found dead in a
police cell, authorities confirmed on Monday. A police statement said Mihigo,
38, had committed suicide.
Mihigo was sentenced to 10 years in prison for offences
including the formation of a criminal gang, conspiracy to murder, and
conspiracy against the established government or the president, according to
Human Rights Watch. In 2018, he was granted a presidential pardon by Kagame.
Last week, however, he was rearrested when crossing the border into Burundi,
with police saying it was a breach of the conditions of his pardon.
“He had been in a police cell for three days as police investigated why he was crossing the border illegally and cases of bribery,” Police spokesperson Eric Kabera said in the statement. According to the police, Mihigo had been allowed to meet family members and his lawyer.
It is not known whether he was being held in solitary confinement. A devout Catholic known for his songs of forgiveness, Mihigo is a cultural icon in Rwanda and his death has been met with disbelief. “Mihigo was somebody who is down to earth and loved by many. News about his death is a shock to the country,” fan William Murinzi said. President Kagame, who has been in power since 2000, has been internationally lauded for creating economic growth and stability in Rwanda, but civil society groups accuse him of human rights abuses.