The ‘Hotel Rwanda’ Hero Is About to Go on Trial. Here’s What We Know.



NAIROBI, Kenya — He was lauded as a hero through the grim days of the 1994 Rwandan genocide, credited with saving the lives of greater than 1,200 individuals he sheltered at his lodge, however when he mysteriously reappeared again in his residence nation late final yr, he was in handcuffs.

Now Paul Rusesabagina, who angered the Rwandan authorities together with his pointed criticism from exile within the years after the blood tub, is about to go on trial in a prosecution that has drawn broad worldwide condemnation.

Mr. Rusesabagina, who gained fame after his actions had been portrayed within the Oscar-nominated film “Resort Rwanda,” is charged with terrorism-related offenses.

In August, the 66-year-old former hotelier who lived in Belgium and the USA, was paraded earlier than the press in shackles within the Rwandan capital, Kigali, with no rationalization from the authorities as to how he had come to be there.

The trial, which is to start on Wednesday, is being dealt with by the Excessive Court docket Chamber for Worldwide Crimes and will likely be held within the trial chamber of the Supreme Court docket in Kigali.

Mr. Rusesabagina has been a staunch critic of President Paul Kagame for years, and his household, his attorneys and critics of the federal government all say he has no likelihood at a good trial. Right here is the story to date:

In 1994, Mr. Rusesabagina, who had educated in hospitality in Kenya and Switzerland, was the supervisor of the luxurious Hôtel des Mille Collines in Kigali when Rwanda discovered itself subsumed by bloodletting that killed as many as 1,000,000 individuals.

However some had the great fortune to seek out shelter on the lodge, the place Mr. Rusesabagina used alcohol and money to discourage their would-be killers. He’s credited with saving 1,268 ethnic Tutsis and Hutus, and his story turned the idea of the 2004 film “Resort Rwanda.” Mr. Rusesabagina additionally recounted it in his 2006 autobiography, “An Peculiar Man.”

Lauded globally for his braveness, Mr. Rusesabagina obtained quite a few humanitarian and civil rights awards, together with a Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005 from President George W. Bush.

As his profile rose, Mr. Rusesabagina used his new platform to roundly criticize the repressive insurance policies of Mr. Kagame, Rwanda’s chief. After his residence in Belgium — the place he was a citizen — was damaged into a number of occasions and paperwork stolen, Mr. Rusesabagina moved his household to a gated group in San Antonio, Texas, the place he believed they might all be protected.

However on the afternoon of Aug. 31, the Rwandan authorities offered him masked and handcuffed.

Mr. Rusesabagina had final communicated together with his household from the airport in Dubai, the place he had arrived on an Emirates flight from Chicago. He then boarded a personal jet that he thought was going to Burundi, the place he deliberate to talk to church buildings on the invitation of a neighborhood pastor.

As an alternative, the aircraft, operated by the Greece-based Constitution agency GainJet, landed in Kigali early the morning of Aug. 28, the place he was promptly arrested and certain for 3 days. Mr. Kagame, talking on nationwide tv, known as the operation “flawless” and denied that Mr. Rusesabagina had been kidnapped, as his household mentioned.

In December, Mr. Rusesabagina and his household sued the airline. “Via this lawsuit we will get some solutions,” Carine Kanimba, considered one of Mr. Rusesabagina’s daughters, mentioned in a phone interview.

In response to the indictment issued by the Rwandan authorities, Mr. Rusesabagina is accused of 9 offenses, amongst them homicide, armed theft and being a member of a terrorist group.


The costs heart on Mr. Rusesabagina’s management within the Rwanda Motion for Democratic Change, an opposition coalition in exile whose armed wing, the Nationwide Liberation Entrance, Rwandan authorities have accused of finishing up assaults alongside Rwanda’s southern border with Burundi in 2018.

The authorities have zeroed in on a 2018 video wherein Mr. Rusesabagina mentioned that each one “political means have been tried and failed” in Rwanda and that it was time to “use any means attainable to result in change.”

Mr. Rusesabagina is collectively charged with 17 different defendants, together with Callixte Nsabimana, also called Sankara, a former spokesman of the Nationwide Liberation Entrance who’s accused of orchestrating assaults in Rwanda’s southern borders.

Mr. Rusesabagina requested the court docket to launch him on bail, citing poor well being, however his request was rejected. The prosecution described him as a flight threat.

Mr. Rusesabagina’s lead counsel, Kate Gibson, mentioned the continuing shouldn’t even begin given the numerous “honest trial violations.” Due to his Belgian citizenship and the circumstances of his arrest, she mentioned, Rwanda “doesn’t have jurisdiction to adjudicate this case, and may dismiss the fees and completely keep the proceedings,” she mentioned in an e-mail.

Ms. Gibson is considered one of three of Mr. Rusesabagina’s worldwide attorneys who haven’t been allowed into Kigali to characterize him.

Mr. Rusesabagina is in solitary confinement in Mageragere Jail in Kigali, in response to his attorneys. He has entry to electrical energy a number of hours a day and is allowed to face exterior for an hour day by day relying on the climate. He’s additionally allowed a five-minute name to his household as soon as per week.

Mr. Rusesabagina, who has hypertension, has repeatedly mentioned in latest months that he’s afraid he’ll die from a stroke. Drugs the household despatched by way of the Belgian Embassy in Kigali by no means reached him, they mentioned. And with Covid-19 outbreaks reported within the jail, his household is anxious he’ll contract the virus.

The jail authorities have repeatedly confiscated confidential authorized paperwork, Ms. Gibson mentioned. And with no case file or indictment paperwork and no solution to communicate together with his attorneys privately, Mr. Rusesabagina is just not capable of put together for his personal case, she mentioned.

“It is a violation of his proper to speak in a privileged method together with his lawyer,” she mentioned. “It’s a violation of his proper to enough time and assets to organize his protection. He’s utterly hamstrung.”

The prosecution has been roundly condemned.

On Tuesday, 37 members of the U.S. Congress publicly launched a letter despatched in December that known as on Mr. Kagame to launch Mr. Rusesabagina.

A decision handed by the European Parliament criticized the Rwandan authorities for the “enforced disappearance, unlawful rendition, and incommunicado detention” of Mr. Rusesabagina, and demanded that “his rights as an E.U. citizen are upheld.” The lawmakers requested member state missions in Kigali, notably the Belgians, to watch the trial and go to him in jail.

On Tuesday, the Rwandan Parliament responded, adopting a decision condemning the E.U.’s “try to improperly affect an ongoing judicial continuing.”


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