Paul Rusesabagina, whose story inspired the 2004 Hollywood film “Hotel Rwanda,” has admitted to a Kigali court that he formed an armed rebel group.
The former hotel manager says the group was not intended to be a terrorist group but to maintain the peace.
“We formed the FLN (National Liberation Front) as an armed wing, not as a terrorist group as the prosecution keeps saying. I do not deny that the FLN committed crimes but my role was diplomacy,” he told the court.
“The agreement we signed to form MRCD as a political platform included the formation of an armed wing called FLN. But my work was under the political platform and I was in charge of diplomacy.”
Rusesabagina insists that he established the NLF to assist Rwandan refugees.
The Rwandan government issued an arrest warrant for Rusesabagina to answer charges of serious crimes including “terrorism,” arson, kidnap, and murder perpetrated against unarmed civilians. He was accused of being “founder, leader, sponsor and member of violent, armed, extremist terror outfits including the Rwanda Movement for Democratic Change” (MRCD).
Rusesabagina was arrested during a trip to Dubai and transported to Rwanda to face the charges. He is a Belgian citizen, as well as a US green cardholder.
Rusesabagina had previously asked to be released on bail, citing poor health. Since his arrest, he has visited the hospital no less than three times. The court denied his request.
“The court finds that the charges by the prosecution against Rusesabagina are grave and serious,” Judge Dorothy Yankurije said last week. “The health concerns brought by Mr Rusesabagina are baseless since he does not show how being in detention prevents him from accessing all the medical attention he needs.”
Earlier this month, Rwandan President Paul Kagame agreed to a fair and open trial. “We are obligated to do this,” he said. “We want to do things in a right way.”
Despite Kagame’s assurances, Rusesabagina’s family remains cynical. “We have no hope that he can be given fair justice in Rwanda and ask for his immediate release,” said daughter Caine Kanimba via social media.