Paul Rusesabagina, a businessman whose role in saving more than 1,000 lives inspired the film Hotel Rwanda, has appeared in court in Rwanda’s capital, Kigali, to face charges of terrorism and murder.
The family of Rusesabagina, who is an outspoken critic of President Paul Kagame, have accused the east African country’s authorities of kidnapping the 66-year-old from Dubai earlier this month and denying him fair legal representation.
Wearing a brown jacket, white shirt and trousers and accompanied by lawyers appointed by authorities, Rusesabagina appeared at Kagarama primary court amid tight security to hear prosecutors list the charges against him. He faces a lengthy prison sentence, and possibly jail for life.
Rwandan authorities have said Rusesabagina was arrested on what they described as “an international warrant” and have accused him of being “the founder, leader, sponsor and member of violent, armed, extremist terror outfits … operating out of various places in the region and abroad.”
However it is unclear how Rusesabagina, who flew to Dubai from his home in the US, was brought to Rwanda.
Flight logs have identified a private jet that took off from Dubai and landed at Kigali at 6am on 28 August. Lawyers acting for his family said they believed it was “highly likely” that Rusesabagina was on the plane.
Kagame has denied that Rusesabagina had been kidnapped, but suggested he had been the victim of some kind of trick.
On Monday, prosecutors said Rusesabagina was the leader of the Forces for National Liberation (FLN), a rebel group which has carried out a number deadly attacks in Rwanda in recent years. The FLN was the military wing of the Rwanda Movement for Democratic Change (MRCD) political party, which Rusesabagina helped to found.
Rwandan authorities allege Rusesabagina funded some of the FLN’s operations through his charitable foundation. Relatives say the claim is groundless, and that authorities were not allowing Rusesabagina to defend himself.
Credit: The Guardian