A Rwandan court has adjourned the trial of “Hotel Rwanda” hero Paul Rusesabagina after his lawyers failed to meet him to discuss his case, officials say.
The High Court Chamber for International and Cross-Border Crimes in Nyanza District High Court ruled that the highly anticipated trial will instead begin on February 17.
This is to allow him time to discuss the charges he faces with his legal team.
Mr Rusesabagina and 18 other co-accused – who are detained at Mageragera Prison in Kigali – attended the hearing via online video conferencing but their lawyers were not present, “so the court decided to adjourn it to give them time to meet their lawyers,” Harrison Mutabazi, spokesperson of The High Court, told The EastAfrican.
Last week, his lawyers filed a motion to the court alleging that Mr Rusesabagina was being denied necessities such as access to a paper and pen, and that prison officials had confiscated his legal documents.
They also said that he had been denied access to international lawyers as well as privileged phone calls with his lawyers in Kigali, which made him ill prepared for the trial.
The 66-year-old former hotelier is charged with nine crimes related to terrorism, arson, kidnap, assault and destruction of property.
His trial will be jointly conducted with that of 18 rebels who are suspected of conducting attacks in Rwanda. They include Callixte Nsabimana, also known as Sankara, who is a former commander of the FLN rebels that claimed a spate of attacks in which nine people were killed in the southern province.
Mr Rusesabagina's high-profile arrest in August last year attracted international attention and drew the ire of his family and international human rights organisations, which have insisted that he was illegally arrested and flown to Rwanda against his will.