Paul Rusesabagina to appeal trial in Rwanda ruling

Saturday February 27 2021

'Hotel Rwanda' hero Paul Rusesabagina (left) with his lawyer and co-accused in a courtroom in Kigali, Rwanda, on February 26, 2021. PHOTO | CYRIL NDEGEYA| NMG


Paul Rusesabagina will appeal a court decision to have his trial conducted in Rwanda after judges ruled against sending him to Belgium calling the demand ‘‘baseless.’’

At the beginning of his trial on February 18, Rusesabagina insisted that he is not a Rwandan citizen and that Rwanda does not have jurisdiction to try him since he is a Belgian citizen.

On Friday, a three-judge panel ruled that Rusesabagina’s trial will be held in Rwanda, quashing his request for the case to be moved to Belgium.

His defence team says it will appeal the decision even as it continues to challenge prosecution on grounds that Rusesabagina “was kidnapped by Rwandan agents” urging the court to examine the legality of how he ended up in Rwanda.

The prosecution maintains his arrest was done legally.

“Let the court registrar that my client appeals this decision,” his lawyer Gatera Gashabana said, shortly after a three-panel judge quashed the request to have him sent to Belgium.


The defendant a lso requested judges to adjourn the trial in order to prepare for “more objections,” but this was denied on grounds that his co-accused needed time to also present their objections to the trial.

Shortly after the ruling, Mr Rusesabagina’s family in Belgium released a statement noting that the court’s refusal to talk about circumstances surrounding his arrest amounted to an unfair trial.

Mr Rusesabagina in a clean-shaven head, wearing pink prison uniform appeared alongside 20 co-accused — including one woman — charged with several counts of terrorism and armed violence that attract sentences ranging from 20 years to life imprisonment.

Among them was Callixte Nsabimana, aka, Sankara, former spokesperson and commander of the FLN rebels, accused of killing up to nine people in attacks in southern Rwanda between 2018 and 2019 and former rebel commanders Gen Felicien Nsazubukire and Gen Anastase Munyaneza.

The trial was adjourned to March 3.