Rwanda’s Genocide Hero, Paul Rusesabagina, Appears In Court

Paul Rusesabagina, portrayed in the Hollywood movie – ‘Hotel Rwanda’ – as a hero, was on Monday brought before a Rwandan court amid tight security.

Prosecutors are expected to formally charge him and hear his plea today.

Rusesabagina, a former hotel manager, was portrayed in the Oscar-nominated film ‘Hotel Rwanda’ as using his job and his connections with the Hutu elite to protect Tutsis fleeing the slaughter.

But last month, the 66-year-old was arrested on an international warrant. The Rwanda Investigation Bureau said he would face several charges including “terrorism, financing terrorism, arson, kidnap and murder”.

Rusesabagina’s family however said he was kidnapped from Dubai.

Rusesabagina has lived in exile since 1996 and is a strong critic of President Paul Kagame’s government.

Kagame enjoys widespread credit for returning Rwanda to stability after the genocide and boosting economic growth, however, his rule has been tainted by accusations of widespread repression.

While in exile, Rusesabagina started an opposition group, the Rwandan Movement for Democratic Change (MRCD). The group is said to have an armed wing called the National Liberation Front (FLN).

Rwanda has labelled the FLN, a group Rusesabagina has frequently expressed support for, as a terrorist organisation.

Rusesabagina’s alleged abduction, experts say, follows a pattern of repressive measures adopted by the Rwandan government to silence critics.

In 2013, Patrick Karegeya, Rwanda’s former spy chief and fierce Kagame critic, was strangled after being lured to a luxury hotel in Johannesburg in South Africa.

Kagame had said after the murder, “Any person still alive who may be plotting against Rwanda, whoever they are, will pay the price.”

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