Rwandan President Paul Kagame Denies ‘Hotel Rwanda’ Hero Kidnap

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Rwandan President Paul Kagame has denied allegations that Paul Rusesabagina, the former hotel manager whose real-life story inspired a Hollywood movie, was kidnapped from Dubai.

“It was not the case,” Kagame said during a virtual news conference. “There was no kidnap. There was no any wrongdoing in the process of his getting here. He got here on the basis of what he believed and wanted to do, and he found himself here … that’s how it happened.”

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Rusesabagina is recognized for saving 1,200 lives during the country’s 1994 genocide by allowing people to take shelter in the hotel he managed at the time.

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 heads a group of terrorists that have killed Rwandans. He will have to pay for these crimes,” Kagame said on Sunday. “Rusesabagina has the blood of Rwandans on his hands.”

The US has demanded that the Rwandan government provide “humane treatment, adhere to the rule of law and provide a fair and transparent legal process” for Rusesabagina, who is a US green cardholder.

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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.”

Rusesabagina is not the only Rwandan facing charges over the 1994 genocide.

In May, Félicien Kabuga was arrested by French authorities for allegedly being one of the main benefactors of the genocide. Kabuga’s RTLM radio station incited the attacks in which about 800,000 Rwandans were slaughtered by ethnic Hutu extremists. Tutsis were hacked to death with machetes (allegedly provided by Kabuga), burned alive, or shot.

In 1998, the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda’s prosecutor indicted Kabuga on seven counts of genocide and crimes against humanity. He managed to evade capture for 26 years.

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