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Hotel Rwanda ‘Hero’ Denied Bail as Family Requests Support Overseas

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Copyright © africanews
SIMON WOHLFAHRT/AFP or licensors

Rwanda

Request Denied

Not approved. The appeal to the Kigali court to overturn the denial of famed Paul Rusesabagina’s initial request to post bail two weeks ago, after the mysterious arrest in August of the polarising hero of the hit movie about Rwanda’s 1994 genocide 'Hotel Rwanda.'

Rusesabagina Is facing 13 charges including terrorism and murder — by way of violent activities of the armed wing of his co-founded Congolese opposition abroad-based party Rwandan Movement for Democratic Change (MRCD).

The militia group, National Liberation Front (FLN), has claimed responsibility for a series of attacks in Nyungwe forest in 2018 that saw the loss of several lives and the destruction of property.

The 66-year-old accused maintains that he had no direct involvement with these activities and had only a diplomatic role within the main political party.

The family of the former hotel-owner had already called on Thursday for intervention from the United States and the European Union — in particular Belgium, where Rusesabagina, a political dissident, has been living in exile for around two decades and from where he holds sole citizenship.

They claim that their father was kidnapped, detained illegally and has not been permitted to choose or consult with his lawyers and request that he be released from prison immediately and tried in a just manner overseas.

Patrick Kennedy

Details

Rusesabagina, who says he was tricked into returning to Rwanda, has been denied his choice of defence lawyers, according to his family. Instead, his defence team was appointed by the government of Rwanda.

"This is unprecedented," said Peter Robinson, an American lawyer who has previously defended people accused at the International Criminal Court and international war crimes tribunals for Rwanda. "They are preventing Paul from being defended by lawyers of his choice."

Robinson said the family had appointed him and six other lawyers to defend Rusesabagina. But their local lawyer - one of the six - has not been permitted to see Rusesabagina and his government-appointed lawyers have not communicated with Rusesabagina's family, he said.

Robinson urged the United States, Belgium and the European Union to put pressure on the Rwandan government to free Rusesabagina, who is a Belgian citizen and permanent resident of the United States. He received the United States’ highest civilian award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, in 2005.

His case has attracted widespread international attention partly due to his fame that came about at the success and popularity of the Hollywood film that narrated the story of his protection of Tutsi guests during the genocide.