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 struggling with him, demanding he be allowed to plead to just about every independent count in a case that has also thrust a spotlight on to President Paul Kagame’s federal government.
Rusesabagina, who as soon as called for armed resistance to the federal government in a YouTube video clip, appeared in a Kigali courtroom accused of terrorism, complicity in murder and forming or joining an irregular armed group, among other prices.
His trial guarantees to be the most substantial-profile nevertheless in a string of circumstances towards Kagame’s opponents.
Brought to courtroom handcuffed in a van inscribed “RIB” for Rwanda Investigation Bureau, the sixty six-year-aged Rusesabagina wore a tan fit and an anti-coronavirus mask. He sat pensively before responding.
He advised the court docket that he had contributed twenty,000 euros (eighteen,440.27 lbs) to the Countrywide Liberation Entrance (FLN), the army wing of the Mouvement Rwandais pour le Changement Démocratique, which he co-chairs.
“FLN killed people today,” he acknowledged. “If there are bad acts that were finished in opposition to the folks, I regret that and I request forgiveness to the households of victims.”
Rusesabagina refused to enter a plea for any of the prices. He was due to surface all over again on Thursday to apply for bail.
The Oscar-nominated film “Hotel Rwanda” portrayed Rusesabagina, a former hotel supervisor, using his connections with the Hutu elite to guard Tutsis fleeing the slaughter.
Soon after the genocide, Rusesabagina obtained Belgian citizenship and grew to become resident of the United States. He became a vocal critic of Kagame, whom he accused of stifling opposition, an accusation the govt denies.
Rusesabagina has not been authorized to meet legal professionals appointed by his family members, they explained in a assertion. But one of his federal government-appointed legal professionals, David Rugaza, argued he was on trial for exercising flexibility of speech.
“He got a Belgian citizenship in 1999,” Rugaza told the one-decide hearing. “Rwanda is making an attempt a overseas citizen (for) independence of expression that he relished when overseas.”
Some in Rwanda, which include Kagame, have accused Rusesabagina of exaggerating his heroism, which he denies.
It is nonetheless unclear how Rusesabagina came to be in Rwanda. His spouse and children say he was disappeared from Dubai.
The court struck out a defence objection that the arrest was irregular, ruling that it experienced jurisdiction due to the fact Rusesabagina was arrested in Rwandan territory, without giving further details.
JUSTICE Procedure Under SCRUTINY
Kagame has dominated Rwanda since the close of the genocide and won the final elections – in 2017 – with almost ninety nine% of the vote.
He has savored common credit score and help from Western donors for restoring Rwanda to balance, cracking down on corruption and boosting financial advancement in the East African country of 12 million.
But global legal rights teams and political opponents say his rule is ever more tainted by repression.
“Kagame and other federal government officials often threaten individuals who criticize the federal government,” Human Rights Check out (HRW) claimed in a briefing note, including that the judiciary lacked independence and torture of prisoners was frequent.
The federal government denies accusations of torture of detainees.
Tibor Nagy, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of Condition for Africa, tweeted earlier this month that the United States wanted to see Rusesabagina acquire a “fair trial”.
Michaela Improper, a British writer looking into a book about Rwandan politics, mentioned the trial was previously placing the Kagame authorities below greater scrutiny.
“The Rwandan government’s regular supporters may well perfectly get started inquiring by themselves why so numerous opposition activists disappear and meet up with violent finishes in Rwanda, why so lots of human rights activists and journalists flee abroad,” she said.