Radio station boss charged after refusing to name possible killer of three Italian nuns

Bob Rugurika, director of the popular independent African Public Radio, have been charged with complicity in the killing of three nuns, and was denied bail by a Burundi court on Wednesday.

According to the Local, Rugurika was arrested mid January after broadcasting a confession of one of the alleged killers that involved the murder of three Italian nuns, Olga Raschietti, 83, Lucia Pulici, 75, and 79-year-old Bernadetta Boggian at a convent north of Bujumbura in September. The confession contradicted previous reports of the police for the murder, which implicated a top official.

Rugurika was charged with complicity for broadcasting the confession and refusing to name the killer. He was charged for "breaching of public solidarity and disclosing confidential information regarding a case." If convicted, he could be sentenced up to 20 years in prison.

The case of Rugurika sparked protests from civil rights activists and fellow journalists.

"This is an unfair decision, which disappoints us greatly because it confirms again that the Burundian justiciary is not truly independent," said lawyer Lambert Nigarura.

"Instead of illegally holding Bob Rugurika, judges should release him to help to bring out the truth of the assassination of the three nuns, but that is not their goal."

Burundi, a small nation in central Africa, just survived a violent 13-year civil war in 2006.  The political climate remains difficult as the government prepares for a local, parliamentary, and presidential poll in May and June.