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Rwanda Did Not Kidnap Genocide Defendant, High Court Says

  • Paul Rusesabagina, Kigali, Rwanda, March, 2021.

    Paul Rusesabagina, Kigali, Rwanda, March, 2021. | Photo: Twitter/ @BasileUwimana

Published 10 March 2021

"There is nothing showing this process resorted to force or undermined the sovereignty of any other state," the ruling states.

The High Court Chamber for International and Cross-Border Crimes in Kigali on Wednesday ruled that Paul Rusesabagina, who is on trial for the 1994 Tutsi genocide, was not "kidnapped" to be taken to Rwanda. 


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"There is nothing showing this process resorted to force or undermined the sovereignty of any other state," the High Court Chamber's ruling reads.

The judges thus responded to objections raised by Rusesabagina on the first day of his trial on Feb. 17, when he stated that he had been "abducted" and taken to Rwanda to face an "illegal trial." Claiming that Rusesabagina was not arrested through legal channels, his lawyer Rudakemwa Felix appealed the decision and demanded that the trial be postponed until his appeal is resolved.

Previously, this lawyer had argued that the court had no jurisdiction to try Rusesabagina because he had Belgian nationality. On Feb. 26, however, the court dismissed that objection on the basis of a law that gives the court jurisdiction to try any person suspected of having committed transnational crimes on Rwandan territory.

The Court took into account the statement of Bishop Constantin Niyomwungere, the man who allegedly facilitated the arrest of the accused by luring him to Kigali in August 2020.

"Rusesabaigina facilitated his own arrest at 90 percent," the bishop said and clarified that the accused had admitted to him his involvement in killings of Rwandans committed by the National Liberation Front (NLF), which was the armed wing of the Rwanda Movement for Democratic Change (MRCD), a political party led by Rusesabagina.

The defendant was the manager of the Thousand Hills Hotel that inspired the movie "Hotel Rwanda". Unlike the Hollywood account, Resesabagina seems not to have been a pious character as he faces charges related to the 1994 genocide, which caused the death of some 800,000 Tutsis in less than a hundred days.

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