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Daughter of 'Hotel Rwanda' hero makes passionate appeal to Belgium over 'unfair' trial

Carine Kanimba, Paul Rusesabagina's daughter, appeals to Belgian authoities to intervene to free and repatriate her father.   -  
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JOHN THYS/AFP or licensors


Carine Kanimba, the daughter of Paul Rusesabagina, hero of the movie, ‘’Hotel Rwanda’’ on Friday called on Belgian authorities to intervene to free and repatriate her father of Belgian nationality. She denounces unfair trial.

"Frankly, there are days when I cry a lot, I can't sleep, I don't eat at all, just knowing that my father is sitting in a room with no windows, no light and no one to talk to, no one he can trust in this country. Because if they said something, if someone sided with him or defended him in Rwanda, it would mean opposing the President, opposing the dictator, which is impossible in this country. So we know that he is all alone there", Kanimba said.

Rusesabagina, 66, went on trial in Kigali Wednesday on charges that include terrorism, prompting international calls for his release. The former Director of Hotel des Mille Collines in Kigali was arrested late August in Rwanda under troubling circumstances as he got on a plane he thought was bound for Burundi. His lawyers call the act, ‘’kidnapping’’.

"What he risks is not only life imprisonment, but also death. We know that Paul Kagame has no problem killing his political opponents, his critics, and even human rights activists and journalists who dare to say something", his daughter said.

Paul Rusesabagina, whose trial began Wednesday, is being tried for his alleged support of the National Liberation Front (FLN), a rebel group accused of deadly attacks in Rwanda.

He challenged the court's right to try him because of his Belgian nationality. Rusesabagina‘s relatives said they were "very worried" about his health, claiming that medicines sent through the Belgian diplomatic staff never reached him.

According to the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Rusesabagina "has received full consular assistance since departure" and has received four visits from diplomatic staff to "monitor his medical condition".

Brussels said it has offered to put Rwandan and Belgian doctors in touch with each other so that Rusesabagina can receive adequate care.

The Belgian ministers of Justice and Foreign Affairs have called for "a fair, equitable and transparent trial" and the right for the accused "to prepare his defense in the best conditions", during exchanges with their Rwandan counterparts, a spokeswoman for Belgian diplomacy told AFP.

The family's lawyer, Vincent Lurquin, at a press conference criticized the Belgian government, denouncing what he calls "a silence that risks becoming an accomplice".

According to him, Brussels "can ask the Rwandan government to transfer" Paul Rusesabagina to Belgium, where an investigation against him has already been opened at the request of Kigali.

Brussels confirmed the filing of a complaint and the opening of an investigation in Belgium. It stressed that it "does not have precise information" on the circumstances of Mr. Rusesabagina's arrest.

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