The famous Rwandan singer Bruce Melodie was arrested Wednesday in Burundi, where he had just arrived to give concerts, and placed in custody for fraud, the Burundian Ministry of Interior announced Thursday.
"Bruce Melodie is in custody, under investigation for fraud," the Burundian Ministry of Interior and Public Security announced in a tweet early Thursday morning, without further details.
According to witnesses interviewed by AFP, the car carrying Itahiwacu Bruce - better known by his stage name Bruce Melodie - from the airport of the economic capital Bujumbura, where he had just landed, was intercepted by several men in police uniforms and civilian clothes at around 17:00 local time (15:00 GMT).
Extracted from the vehicle, the artist was handcuffed and then taken to the general police station of the judicial police in Bujumbura.
The news of the arrest of the Rwandan star, who was to give two concerts in Bujumbura on Thursday and Friday, has made the rounds of social networks, where several Burundian singers have expressed their indignation.
Bruce Melodie is the target of a complaint of fraud following the cancellation of concerts a few years ago, according to Burundian media and people close to the artist.
Concerts scheduled for 2018 and 2021 had been canceled at the last minute by the Burundian Ministry of Interior and Public Security, the first time in the context of diplomatic tensions between the two countries and the second time because of Covid-19.
"One of these promoters, Toussaint Niyukuri, has filed a complaint with the police and is demanding that the Rwandan singer reimburse him for a deposit of 2,000 dollars that he had paid him at the time, as well as a sum that has risen from 30 million to 60 million Burundian francs (15,000 to 60,000 euros), which, according to him, represent all the expenses incurred before the cancellation of these concerts," explained to AFP one of the people close to Bruce Melodie, on condition of anonymity.
"Bruce Melodie is ready to pay part of this money, even if he believes that it was a case of force majeure, provided that we agree to release him," he added.