Controversial hero of ‘Hotel Rwanda’ movie denied bail

The controversial hero of 'Hotel Rwanda' movie' Paul Rusesabagina on Friday appeared in Nyarugenge Intermediate Court where he was challenging…

The controversial hero of ‘Hotel Rwanda’ movie’ Paul Rusesabagina on Friday appeared in Nyarugenge Intermediate Court where he was challenging a decision by Kicukiro Primary Court, last week, to put him on remand for 30 days, pending trial.The  hearing kicked off with the 66-year old former hotel manager being given  an opportunity to state the reasons for the appeal. The protagonist of  the controversial movie ‘Hotel Rwanda’ told the court that he was not in  good health.

His Lawyer David Rugaza, said that from the outset,  the Kicukiro District Court had no jurisdiction to try his client  because he had to be tried in his area of residence, which is where he  bought a plot of land in Nyarutarama, Gasabo District.

Rugaza  raised the two arguments, which were previously overruled by Kicukiro  Primary Court, including claiming that Rwandan courts have no  jurisdiction to try Rusesabagina, since he is not a Rwandan citizen.

Rusesabagina’s  lawyers argue that the charges against their client are irrelevant,  since Rusesabagina is not Rwandan  and did not commit crimes on Rwandan  soil. Rugaza said the Kicukiro court had not commented (even though it  did) on whether it had jurisdiction to hear the charges against  Rusesabagina or not.

 “We urge this Court to confirm that the  Kicukiro Primary Court did not have jurisdiction to hear the case, as it  was based on illegal reasons,” he said. Rugaza said that from 1996 to  date Rusesabagina is not Rwandan, and had not been in Rwanda from 1996  to August 2020.

He further claimed that pursuant to Article 11  of the 2012-2018 Code of Criminal Procedure, the convicted person must  have committed the crime in Rwanda, adding that the law did not exist  when the alleged crimes were committed in 2018.

Rusesabagina  talking to his lawyer David Rugaza, the accused was given an opportunity  to clarify his citizenship claims and he said that he moved to Belgium  in 1996  and surrendered all his documents to the European country. He  said that for three years he was stateless and was a United Nations  orphan, until he was granted citizenship.

Regarding obtaining  Belgian citizenship, Rusesabagina was asked if he denounced his Rwandan  nationality or if it was revoked and his lawyer said that since Rwanda  did not allow double nationality at the time, he immediately lost his  Rwandan nationality when he got citizenship in another country.

The  argument was previously dismissed by court, which said that there was  proof that he was Rwandan by birth, as he attested when he was read his  profile, while Prosecutors argued that even if he was a foreigner, he  would be held accountable for crimes committed on Rwandan soil.

During  the hearing on Friday, Rusesabagina also attempted to distance himself  from the Rwandan Movement for Democratic Change (MRCD), whose armed  wing, National Liberation Forces (NLF), is accused of waging war on the  Rwandan government, saying that MRCD is a coalition of many parties and  the NLF was an independent organization.

Previously in court  Rusesabagina did not deny financing NLF but he pointed out that he  didn’t know that their activities would result in the killing of  innocent Rwandans. He claimed that what he said earlier was misconstrued  to suggest that he admitted to the crimes, despite making the  confession in court.

He claimed that Prosecution views MRCD as  one party yet it is a coalition and he only headed one aspect of the  forum, which was diplomacy.

He claimed that the other arms of  the coalition were headed by other people, including Gen. Wilson  Irategeka, who headed the military wing and Faustin Twagiramungu, who is  the political spokesperson.

Last week, Rusesabagina admitted in  court to have sent Irategeka, the leader of the FDLR breakaway faction  -the National Council for the Democratic Renewal (CNRD), money amounting  to $3,000 but said that it was just ‘support out of kindness’.

Rusesabagina  told the court that NLF, which is accused of launching attacks on the  south western part of Rwanda, killing at least 9 people, injuring score  and looting properties, was an independent organisation, which he had  nothing to do with, despite earlier indicating he knew the terror  outfit.

During the hearing, Rusesabagina also tried to distance  himself from the former NLF Spokesperson, ‘Maj’ Callixte ‘Sankara’  Nsabimana, who is also facing terrorism-related charged separately,  stating that he was the one in charge of the activities of the armed  group, not himself.

The defendant was asked to elucidate more on  the matter in line with all the evidence presented by Prosecution,  clearly indicating his full involvement and Rusesabagina said that  Prosecution should corroborate what he said with the documents in its  possession seized from his house in Belgium, regarding his role.

Asked  about the audios and videos of him proclaiming war, he pointed out that  their mission was to attract the attention of the Government of Rwanda  to the plight of Rwandan refugees who were scattered in camps in  different countries such as Zambia and Malawi.

“The intention of  creating FNL was not to engage in terrorism. We wanted to draw the  attention of the Government of Rwanda and the international community to  the plight of refugees,” he said.