Government critic Paul Rusapagina is on trial in Rwanda. He is accused of terrorism. Rusesabagina is the man who inspired the movie Rwanda Hotel. During the 1994 genocide, he rescued more than 1,200 Tutsis from the Hutu militia.
Rosapagina was arrested in Rwanda last year after her mysterious disappearance in Dubai. He is being tried on thirteen charges, including terrorism, complicity in murder, and the establishment of an armed rebel movement. He has opposed President Kagame’s regime for years.
Twenty members of the military branch of his opposition party, the Rally for Democracy and Democracy, are being tried with him. According to Rwanda, they are responsible for the deaths of civilians in the southwest of the country in 2018 and 2019.
Rosapagina does not deny military operations. According to him, the political opposition has failed to bring about change in the country and therefore more is needed.
President Paul Kagame, a Tutsi, has ruled the country forcefully since 2000. The country has been disrupted by the conflict between Hutus and Tutsi since the early 1990s. This came to a head in April 1994 when the plane of Hutu chief Juvenal Habyarimana and commanding the army was shot from the sky.
It is not clear who was responsible, but most clues go in the direction of incumbent Kagame.
One of Rasabagina’s daughters says her father was kidnapped in Dubai and tortured. He is said to have received an invitation from a priest to deliver a lecture in Burundi, a neighboring country of Rwanda. From Dubai, they were to travel to Burundi together, but the private plane flew to Rwanda, where he was caught at the airport in the capital, Kigali.
Last year, President Kagame suggested that Rusapagina might have been lured on a plane bound for Rwanda under false pretenses. He later said he had voluntarily chosen to return to Rwanda. Ruspagina, 66, had pledged, according to his family, to never set foot in the country again.
Rosapagina applied for asylum in Belgium after the genocide and is of Belgian nationality. He usually resides in the United States, where he also has residency status.
Not a fair trial
The evidence in the case was fabricated, according to his daughter. She says he is in violation of international law and should be released immediately and unconditionally.
According to the family, he is unlikely to receive a fair trial and is at risk of dying in prison due to ill health; He suffers from heart problems and will not receive treatment. Limited access to independent lawyers. His attorney said that Rospagina feared he would die of a heart attack.
The European Parliament called for Rwanda to have a fair trial for Rusapagina, and condemned his “enforced disappearance” and his “unlawful extradition” to Rwanda and his imprisonment without contact with the outside world. The Rwandan Minister of Justice Johnston Busingei rejected this, describing it as “interference in an ongoing trial in Rwanda, which is a sovereign state with independent courts.”
Paul Rosapagina won a high American award for his role in saving Tutsis in the 1994 genocide, when more than 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed in three months.
Rusesabagina has saved more than 1,200 people during that time. He housed them at the Hôtel des Mille Collines in Kigali, where he was an assistant manager.