Paul Rusesabagina a man who was portrayed in a film “Hotel Rwanda” as a life-saving hero during the Rwandan genocide has Monday, been found guilty of forming an armed militia and being part of a terrorist group by a court in Rwanda.
Rusesabagina along with 20 other people was accused of conspiring to launch attacks on Rwandan territory in 2018 and 2019.
The Rwandan Government allege these attacks claimed a total of nine innocent lives and left scores injured.
In her ruling, Judge Beatrice Mukamurenzi said the opposition group that Rusesabagina formed was responsible for attacks on civilians in Rwanda that involved killings, lootings, arson and assault.
“They Formed FLN which is an illegal armed group, which attacked Rwanda in 2018 and 2019 and even they bragged about it in different announcements and videos,” Justice Mukamurenzi said.
She pointed to a 2018 video in which Rusesabagina says the “the time has come for us to use any means possible to bring about change in Rwanda, as all political means have been tried and failed” as evidence of his guilt.
She ruled, “basing on evidence presented indicating their roles and actions, court finds Paul Rusesabagina and Calixte Nsabimana aka Sankara culpable of creation of a terrorist group…We find there’s Prima-facie case against Rusesabagina on the charge of creation and being a member of a terror group.”
Rusesabagina, 66, was arrested in August 2020 and faced nine charges including financing terrorism, Murder as an act of terrorism, formation of an irregular armed group among others.
The verdict which was unsurprising to many, was heard in the absence of Rusesabagina, who withdrew from the case itself in march his year saying he did not expect justice.
Lawyers for Rusesabagina, now a Belgian citizen who has vocally criticized Kagame, have argued there is no credible evidence showing that National Liberation Forces killed civilians or that the group was under the control of Rusesabagina. Instead, they say, the trial has been an attempt to rationalize the arbitrary detention well-known critic of Kagame, who has stifled independent media ssssssand political opposition in Rwanda.