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Rwanda:Paul Rusesabagina says he won’t appear before court again For Fair Trial Concerns

March 12, 2021

By Jean d’Amour Mbonyinshuti

Because I was denied basic rights to fair trial, I would declare that I don’t expect justice in this court, I want to tell court that this is my last time appearing in court,” Rusesabagina told the court

Terror suspect Paul Rusesabagina on Friday told the High Court for International and Cross Border Crimes that he does not expect fair trial and thus he meant not to appear before the court again.

Rusesabagina alleged that he was denied basic rights to the lawyers of his choosing and even when he got local layers, the court denied him enough time to study his ‘Huge dossier’ among other allegations.
“Because I was denied basic rights to fair trial, I would declare that I don’t expect justice in this court, I want to tell court that this is my last time appearing in court,” Rusesabagina told the court before his judge could echo the same.

Judge instructs the registrar to put Rusesabagina’s statement on record.

He sought at least six months to go through the dossier together with lawyers before the trial could resume.

Rusasabagina is accused of terror related crimes. He is being tried in the Capital City of Kigali along with 20 other suspects all members MRCD outfit that formed FLN army wing.

Through the army wing, prosecution in Rwanda accuse Rusesabagina and co-accused  of having carried out attacks in Rwanda’s Southern Province and killed nine people in different incidences.

The trial started early in February in Kigali by the High Court for International and Cross Border Crimes that normally sits in Nyanza district in Southern Province.

The move to relocate the court was to get bigger space to allow more people participate in the hearing while respecting measure aimed at fighting COVID-19 pandemics.

Ever since the trial started, Rusesabagina who is considered the prime suspect took the lion’s share as he dominated the hearing sessions where he first objected the competence by Rwandan courts to try him saying he had a Belgian citizenship who denounced the Rwandan one.

He accused Rwanda of having abducted him and of detaining him illegally and prayed to the court to set him free or transfer him to Belgium to be tried there if it accused him of any crime.

The court ruled against all the accusation and early this week ordered that the trial could resume given that the court that is trying the suspects has the judicial power to try cross border crimes regardless the citizenship of the suspects.

Appearing in court on Friday, Rusesabagina told the court that he was denied his rights to choose own lawyers from abroad (Belgium) and even when he got local ones, he was denied ample time to analyse his dossier for him to get ready for the trial.

Rusesabagena was arrested at the Kigali International Airport when he was allegedly heading to Burundi with support of a certain bishop Constantin Niwemwungere who tricked him to Rwanda only to be arrested.

 It is alleged that Niwemwungere worked with the Rwanda Investigation Bureau (RIB) on ways to bring Rusesabagina to Rwanda to appear before the court and answer the crimes he allegedly committed.

RIB had discovered that Niwemwungere had close communication with Rusesabagina and interrogated him on the allegations before they agreed to cooperate and bring him to book.

The duo flew to Rwanda early in August 2020 in a private jet and the court heard that Rusesabagina wanted to meet Burundi officials to discuss how Burundi could support terror attacks by FLN.

Niwemwungere said he collaborated with the Investigation Bureau because he is a Christian who could not tolerate the crimes committed by Rusesabagina and the group against innocent people in Rwanda.     

According to legal experts, the court still has the rights to continue hearing without the suspect until it reaches the final decision of either sentencing the suspect or acquitting him in the case of Rusesabagina.

The court adjourned the hearing to March 24 2021.

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