Judge rules Paul Rusesabagina, a Belgian citizen, can face trial on ‘terrorism’ charges in Rwanda court.Rusesabagina has argued he is a Belgian citizen who was kidnapped and taken to Rwanda, a country he left in 1996.The “terrorism” trial of the man who inspired the film Hotel Rwanda can be held in Rwanda, a judge there has ruled, rejecting Paul Rusesabagina’s argument that a court there cannot try him because he is no longer a citizen.
Rusesabagina has argued he is a Belgian citizen who was kidnapped and taken to Rwanda, a country he left in 1996. The judge, however, said the court does not find it relevant to talk about how he was
detained.Rusesabagina disappeared during a visit to Dubai in August and appeared days later in Rwanda in handcuffs, accused of supporting the armed wing of his opposition political platform, which has claimed responsibility for deadly attacks. He faces nine charges including the formation of an irregular armed group; membership in a terrorist
group; financing terrorism; and murder, abduction and armed robbery as an act of terrorism. If convicted, he could face more than 20 years in prison.His family says Rusesabagina, praised for saving ethnic Tutsis during Rwanda’s 1994 genocide and awarded the US Presidential Medal of Freedom, has no chance at a fair trial because of his outspoken criticism of longtime Rwandan President Paul Kagame and human rights abuses. They fear he might die from poor health behind bars.
Rusesabagina is credited with saving more than 1,000 people by sheltering them at the hotel he managed during the genocide in which more than 800,000 Tutsi and Hutus who tried to protect them were killed. Rwanda’s government has long asserted that Rusesabagina’s role in the genocide was exaggerated.The court on Friday found that both Rwanda and Belgium have the jurisdiction to try him, but “there is no justification for his trial to be moved from Rwanda to Belgium as he requested”.The prosecution has argued that Rusesabagina is Rwandan by origin and that local laws allow the prosecution of non-nationals who commit crimes on Rwandan soil.