'Hotel Rwanda' hero Paul Rusesabagina charged in Kigali

Monday September 14 2020

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'Hotel Rwanda' film hero Paul Rusesabagina confers with his lawyer in a Kigali court on September 14, 2020 where he faces a raft of charges including terrorism, murder, and financing terrorism. PHOTO | CYRIL NDEGEYA 

IVAN R. MUGISHA
By IVAN R. MUGISHA
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Paul Rusesabagina, the Hollywood movie Hotel Rwanda hero, appeared in a court in Kigali on Monday for a pretrial hearing.

He was brought to the Kagarama Primary Court in a detention van at about 9am, wearing a mask, a checkered jacket, a cream shirt, and khaki trousers amid tight security.

Mr Rusesabagina only spoke to his lawyers as journalists flanked him inside the court to take pictures and videos.

Presiding Judge Dorothy Yankurije read out a list of 12 charges against him including terrorism, murder, financing terrorism, forming terror groups, and arson.

His lawyers requested the court to release him on bail on grounds that the Kagarama Primary Court where the hearing took place "does not have jurisdiction to try his case."

"My client's residency in Rwanda is Nyarutarama, not Kicukiro. By law, a suspect is supposed to be tried in the area of his residence," lead counsel Mr David Rugaza told the court.

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Mr Rusesabagina did not speak a single word during the hearing only whispering to his lawyers.

"My client does not reside in Rwanda, and he has not committed crimes in Rwanda. The crimes against my client are not consistent. He should not be accused of crimes committed by other parties even if he had entered into a partnership with them. It is on this ground that he should immediately be released provisionally," Mr Rugaza added.

State prosecutor Oscar Butera challenged the submissions saying the suspect is on the record claiming to be a national of two foreign countries.

"His argument that Rusesabagina's residency is in Kinyinya is contradictory. He has consistently claimed that he is a national of two foreign countries, Belgium and the US," he said.

The hearing is still ongoing.

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