Rwanda has deported Vincent Lurquin, the lawyer for Paul Rusesabagina who is standing trial on terrorism, complicity in murder and forming an armed rebel group charges.
Rusesabagina, a former hotelier whose story inspired the film ‘Hotel Rwanda’ after he purportedly saved hundreds of lives during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, faces life imprisonment if found guilty.
The Belgian lawyer, according to the Rwanda Directorate General of Immigration and Emigration, was deported on a plane at around 8.40 pm on Saturday for breaching immigration laws.
Lurquin, who represented Rusesabagina in Belgium, had arrived in Rwanda on Monday on a tourist visa. On Friday, he appeared in a court in Kigali to represent the accused wearing a lawyer’s robe, falling foul of the country’s laws.
Regis Gatarayiha, the immigration director-general, said Lurquin’s visa allowed him to visit Rwanda but not to work.
He added that the lawyer would never be allowed back into Rwanda.
In October 2020, Lurquin and his colleague, Philippe Larochelle, alleged during an online conference that their efforts to talk to their client during a visit to Rwanda were frustrated by authorities.
Larochelle said both had attempted unsuccessfully to obtain permission to see their client from the head of the Rwanda Bar Association (RBA), Julien Kavaruganda.
But Kavaruganda said the lawyers did not have work permits and visas to practice law in Rwanda.
“Usually a foreigner willing to come and work in Rwanda needs a visa and work permit. If a foreigner is willing to come to Rwanda and practice as an advocate he or she has to fulfil the conditions,” Kavaruganda said.
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