KIGALI (Reuters) – Paul Rusesabagina, portrayed as a hero in a Hollywood movie about Rwanda’s 1994 genocide, declined to plead on Monday to all the 13 prices facing him, demanding he be authorized to plead to each and every separate rely in a circumstance that has also thrust a highlight on to President Paul Kagame’s govt.
Rusesabagina, who once identified as for armed resistance to the governing administration in a YouTube video clip, appeared in a Kigali court accused of terrorism, complicity in murder and forming or joining an irregular armed group, amid other fees.
His trial claims to be the most high-profile yet in a string of circumstances against Kagame’s opponents.
Introduced to court handcuffed in a van inscribed “RIB” for Rwanda Investigation Bureau, the 66-12 months-aged Rusesabagina wore a tan fit and an anti-coronavirus mask. He sat pensively before responding.
He told the courtroom that he had contributed twenty,000 euros ($24,000) to the Countrywide Liberation Front (FLN), the navy wing of the Mouvement Rwandais pour le Changement Démocratique, which he co-chairs.
“FLN killed persons,” he acknowledged. “If there are terrible functions that have been accomplished towards the individuals, I regret that and I ask forgiveness to the households of victims.”
Rusesabagina refused to enter a plea for any of the expenses. He was owing to show up yet again on Thursday to apply for bail.
The Oscar-nominated film “Hotel Rwanda” portrayed Rusesabagina, a previous resort supervisor, making use of his connections with the Hutu elite to defend Tutsis fleeing the slaughter.
Immediately after the genocide, Rusesabagina obtained Belgian citizenship and turned resident of the United States. He grew to become a vocal critic of Kagame, whom he accused of stifling opposition, an accusation the governing administration denies.
Rusesabagina has not been allowed to meet legal professionals appointed by his spouse and children, they mentioned in a assertion. But one of his govt-appointed lawyers, David Rugaza, argued he was on demo for training freedom of speech.
“He received a Belgian citizenship in 1999,” Rugaza informed the 1-choose listening to. “Rwanda is trying a international citizen (for) freedom of expression that he savored although abroad.”
Some in Rwanda, including Kagame, have accused Rusesabagina of exaggerating his heroism, which he denies.
It is still unclear how Rusesabagina came to be in Rwanda. His family members say he was disappeared from Dubai.
The court docket struck out a defence objection that the arrest was irregular, ruling that it experienced jurisdiction simply because Rusesabagina was arrested in Rwandan territory, devoid of delivering additional information.
JUSTICE Technique Under SCRUTINY
Kagame has ruled Rwanda considering that the conclusion of the genocide and won the past elections – in 2017 – with almost ninety nine% of the vote.
He has loved common credit rating and help from Western donors for restoring Rwanda to security, cracking down on corruption and boosting financial development in the East African country of 12 million.
But intercontinental legal rights groups and political opponents say his rule is increasingly tainted by repression.
“Kagame and other governing administration officials regularly threaten those people who criticize the governing administration,” Human Rights Look at (HRW) stated in a briefing notice, adding that the judiciary lacked independence and torture of prisoners was prevalent.
The federal government denies accusations of torture of detainees.
Tibor Nagy, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of Condition for Africa, tweeted before this thirty day period that the United States required to see Rusesabagina acquire a “fair trial”.
Michaela Mistaken, a British author exploring a guide about Rwandan politics, mentioned the demo was previously placing the Kagame federal government less than better scrutiny.
“The Rwandan government’s traditional supporters may properly start off inquiring them selves why so quite a few opposition activists disappear and fulfill violent ends in Rwanda, why so several human rights activists and journalists flee overseas,” she said.