Human rights activist is jailed for stealing £220,000

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A HUMAN rights activist has been jailed for 27 months for stealing more than £220,000 from Norwich Roman Catholic Cathedral while volunteering as its treasurer.

Rene Mugenzi, 44, transferred cash from the bank account of St John the Baptist Cathedral into his own account to fund his gambling addiction.

The money he stole was donated by worshippers for Catholic charities and church work.

Prosecutor Chris Youell said there were no checks in place to stop him transferring small amounts at a time and he lost track of how much he had taken.

The fraud was discovered when the Cathedral reviewed its finances when it was struggling to pay bills.

The Cathedral was left unable to pay some bills due to the fraud and had only received around a quarter of the missing money back from insurers.

Mugenzi fled Rwanda when he was 18 in 1994 at the time of the African country’s genocide and moved to the UK three years later.

He is a long-standing critic of Rwanda’s current Government and was allegedly told by the Metropolitan Police in 2011 that his life was in danger from assassins sent to kill him

Mugenzi admitted the fraud in July when he appeared before Norwich magistrates, but the court barred reporting of the case after his lawyer warned his life was under threat.

Judge Katharine Moore said Mugenzi had ‘grossly abused’ trust placed in him and ruled that only a prison sentence could be justified.

She acknowledged he had pleaded guilty at the first opportunity and was a ‘highly intelligent man’ of ‘active good character’.

Andrew Oliver, defending Mugenzi, said he had repeatedly spoken out against human rights abuses of regimes, including the Rwandan government.

He believed he was under threat from the Rwandan government and this made him anxious and fearful and he had struggled to work, he said.

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Charlie Loran

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