KAMPALA — In a remarkable turn of events, a Ugandan publication Softpower News has reinstated a deleted story that peddled a conspiracy theory on the alleged murder of a French citizen of Rwandan origin Benjamin Rutabana.
The publication suggested that Mr. Rutabana who went missing since September 2019 was murdered in cold blood by Rwandan security operatives.
The story was restored after this website identified the matter on Tuesday.
It is not immediately clear why the editorial had resolved to delete story but the publication is said to have privately come to that grim realization in recent days, multiple pundits said, amid a mountain of taunting and warnings from a US-based rights firm, that the publication was on course to collide with humanitarian organizations.
The website, in the story (which is now reinstated) quotes a former Rwandan soldier who claims to have witnessed the killing of Rutabana.
“I received Rutabana and saw everything. I witnessed his brutal execution by Rwanda’s Defence Intelligence … After that I had to flee with my family to Uganda,” Lt Gerald Tindifa, an alleged former ADC of Nyakarundi, is quoted as saying.
“In Rwanda, if you are involved in such an operation, you know for sure that one day all of you involved will get killed. That is how our intelligence operates, to conceal and forever bury evidence. I am grateful to God that my family and I are safe. I also pray that God comforts the family of Rutabana,” he reportedly said.
On Wednesday, a veteran Ugandan editor who asked for anonymity said publication “is now stuck with the article”.
The veteran editor added: “Maybe, they were pressured. Maybe, who knows.”
Mr Greg Smith Heavens, the CEO and Founder President, IRHRI, had previously taunted the publication and said the plotters of the story are up to something else, most importantly playing diversionary tactics.
“These people (publication) don’t have any sense of humanity at all. See how they involved a person who is still seeking asylum (self-proclaimed Rwandan soldier) well knowing the consequences he could face if at all they actually interviewed the right guy. The story itself places whoever is called Gerald Tindifa at battle with humanitarian organisations and democratic countries for involvement in crimes against humanity. The whole act is completely against Humanity and UNHCR criteria of refugee’s rights protection.”
Quoting highly placed security sources, Greg says, Rutabana is still alive and also believes he is Uganda.
“We strongly believe that the information we have so far gathered and continue to gather is undoubtedly correct. We well know that Rwanda has no hand in the disappearance of Rutabana. His disappearance is mainly based on the personal interests of Gen Nyamwasa and his close confidants in Uganda’s top security agencies,” he said.
Mr Greg added: “We can confidently confirm that Rutabana is well, alive and in Uganda. Our most recent findings indicate that following our instant pressure and diplomatic processes with Ugandan officials, President Museveni picked interest into the matter and ordered for Rutabana’s safety. This was after he learnt that Rwanda had picked suspicious interest in him.”
We couldn’t confirm Mr. Greg’s assertions because, in Uganda, army is a no go area for journalists.
Another senior editor at a Ugandan top news paper said: I don’t know what informed their decision to first of all publish such allegations. I think they had a done well to delete the story.”
Mr Greg said insists that Mr. Tindifa was never interviewed by the News website. He also thinks they never interviewed M23 commander as they claim.
“The story itself had been cooked, shame on them,” he noted, adding that the act of deleting the story clearly indicates that it was concocted.