Hotel Rwanda 'hero' to be charged with 18 rebel suspects

Tuesday October 06 2020

"Hotel Rwanda" hero Paul Rusesabagina (in pink inmate's uniform) arrives at Nyarugenge Court of Justice in Kigali, Rwanda, on October 2, 2020, surrounded by guards of Rwanda Correctional Service (RCS). PHOTO | AFP


Rwandan prosecutors have filed a request to have “Hotel Rwanda” 'hero' Paul Rusesabagina jointly tried with 18 rebels.

The decision could dent his hopes of distancing himself from acts of the FLN rebel group, which claimed a spate of attacks against Rwanda in 2018.

Prosecutor-General Aimable Havugiyaremye said Monday that the trials should be conducted jointly as the charges are similar.

"The prosecution intends to submit a joint indictment of the 16 fighters together with Paul Rusesabagina. The prosecution will also file a request with the court to merge this case together with the case of Calixte Nsabimana (aka Sankara) and Herman Nsengimana," he said.

“We believe all the 19 defendants should be tried together. This is a common practice known as the principle of connectivity of offenses, which is provided for by our laws. This means that when a group of defendants is charged with the same crimes at the same time and the same place, it is in the interest of justice for the court to consider the cases together."

The fighters


Rwanda announced that it has in custody 16 FLN fighters, including several commanders suspected to have conducted attacks in southern Rwanda in 2018.

Those 16 include Colonel Felicien Nsanzubukire, whom the United Nations Security Council accused of trafficking in weapons, and Major-General Anastace Munyaneza.

Others are Jean Chretien Ndagijimana, son of the late FLN commander Wilson Irategeka, who was killed by Congolese soldiers last December.

Prosecutor-General Havugiyaremye also noted that Belgiam prosecutors cooperated to gather evidence against Mr Rusesabagina, including searching his residential home.

"I thank my counterparts in Belgium for responding to our request for international judicial cooperation to conduct a search of Rusesabagina's residence. The evidence collected during this search will be presented in court," he said.

In videos posted on social media, Mr Rusesabagina pledged his support to the FLN rebel group, which is accused of launching attacks in southern Rwanda and killing nine people, kidnapping others, looting and setting property on fire.

Mr Rusesabagina has apologised in court for the atrocities committed by the FLN and argued that "those responsible for the acts should be the ones held responsible."

He was denied bail last week and is to be remanded for 30 days ahead of the trial, whose date has not yet been announced.