Intermediate court upholds remand decision for Rusesabagina

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The Nyarugenge Intermediate Court in the capital Kigali Friday upheld 30-day remand decision for Rwandan dissident Paul Rusesabagina, portrayed as a humanitarian in the controversial Oscar-nominated film “Hotel Rwanda.”

Rusesabagina, 66, faces 13 charges, including terrorism, forming an armed organization and recruiting people into armed group, issuance of instructions in the act of terrorism, complicity to murder, and arson among others.

Prosecution alleges that Rusesabagina was behind serious crimes orchestrated by terror outfit National Liberation Front (FLN) based in the Democratic Republic of the Congo against unarmed, innocent Rwandan civilians in the south-western districts of Nyaruguru in June 2018 and in Nyungwe, Nyamagabe district in December the same year.

He was remanded on Sept.17 by Kagarama Primary Court in Kigali.

But he appealed against the decision at the Nyarugenge Intermediate Court, on grounds of poor health and that the lower court had ignored his concerns.

In his appeal, Rusesabagina’s defense team among other things had argued that the lower court did not have jurisdiction to hear the pre-trial case of their client, and the suspect was a foreigner, who had no direct control over operations of the National Liberation Front rebels.

But the intermediate court rejected the arguments on Friday.

 “We find all the reasons submitted by the suspect in seeking release to stand trial while out of custody unconvincing,” said Judge Adolph Udahemuka.

“The reasons submitted by the defense challenging the decision of the lower court were found to be baseless. Court dismisses the appeal and therefore the suspect should remain in custody,” he added.

The judge added that Rusesabagina’s claims to be a Belgian citizen and not Rwandan offered reasonable ground to believe “he is a flight risk.”

On the argument that Rusesabagina had no direct control over operations of FLN, and was not responsible for crimes committed by parties which had partnered with his own party, PDR-Ihumure, the judge said the suspect had admitted and expressed remorse about the crimes.

Rusesabagina was depicted as a humanitarian saving hundreds of ethnic Tutsis during the 100-day 1994 genocide against Tutsi as a manager of Hotel des Mille Collines in the film Hotel Rwanda, but survivors disputed the story.

IBUKA, the umbrella organization of genocide survivors associations of Rwanda says Rusesabagina exaggerated his role in helping Tutsis escape the massacre. 

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