KIGALI – A prominent artiste in Rwanda, who was arrested last week, has committed suicide in a police cell.
Kizito Mihigo, who was last week detained for allegedly trying to escape to Burundi, was Monday morning found dead in a police cell.
In a statement, Rwandan Police said the body of the deceased was found hanging at around 5am at Ramera Police Station. Police promised to investigate the killing.
Rwanda Investigation Bureau’s (RIB) said the singer last week attempted to illegally cross the border into Burundi through bribing local residents in Southern Province. According to RIB, Kizito’s plan was to join anti-Rwanda terror groups operating in neighbouring Burundi, a country accused of hosting many anti-Rwanda militias. “Mihigo’s criminal charges include an attempt to illegally cross into Burundi, joining terrorist groups and corruption,” RIB announced later.
Mihigo, who had been found guilty of conspiracy to murder or harm President Kagame and other top leaders of the country, had in 2018 been released under the President’s prerogative of mercy. His arrest and subsequent prosecution in 2014 came after releasing a critical song which was immediately prohibited by Rwandan authorities.
In February 2015, he was sentenced to 10 years of imprisonment after being convicted of conspiracy against the government of President Paul Kagame. On 15 September 2018, with Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, Mihigo was released by presidential grace.
Mihigo was born on 25 July 1981 in Kibeho, Nyaruguru district, in the former Gikongoro Province (now Southern Province) of Rwanda. He was the third of six children born to Augustin Buguzi and Placidie Ilibagiza. At the age of 9, he began composing songs. Five years later, when he was studying in secondary school at the Petit Seminaire de Butare, he became the most popular liturgical organist and composer of the Catholic Church in Rwanda.
In 1994, Mihigo was orphaned in the genocide against Tutsis in Rwanda. He escaped to Burundi where he met surviving members of his family, and tried unsuccessfully to join the Rwandan Patriotic Army (RPA) to avenge his family. In July 1994, Mihigo returned to Rwanda. After high school, he enrolled at the seminary to become a priest, and through music and the Christian faith, he managed to forgive those who killed his father.