Hotel Rwanda hero’s bid for Belgian trial fails


Paul Rusesabagina in court in Rwanda
Image caption: “I am not Rwandan, I am a Belgian hostage. I was kidnapped,” Mr Rusesabagina said at the start of the trial

Rwanda’s high court has rejected a request by the man portrayed as a hero in a Hollywood film about the Rwandan genocide to move his trial on terrorism charges to Belgium.

Paul Rusesabagina had said at the opening of the trial earlier this month that he was being held illegally as he was Belgian, and no longer held Rwandan nationality.

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But the court in the capital, Kigali, has ruled that Mr Rusesabagina did not legally renounce his Rwandan nationality, it does not view him as a “Belgian hostage” and so the trial should continue.

Mr Rusesabagina became famous after Don Cheadle played him in the 2004 film Hotel Rwanda, which depicts his efforts to save hundreds of people from being murdered during the 1994 genocide.

He left Rwanda in 1996 and sought asylum in Belgium. He later obtained a green card for the US, becoming involved in opposition politics in exile.

The 66-year-old was detained in unclear circumstances in Dubai last August. He says he was illegally abducted and flown to Rwanda. The authorities say he was arrested under an international warrant.

Human Rights Watch, the EU Parliament and a group of US senators have all condemned Mr Rusesabagina’s arrest and rendition.

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On Thursday, the US State Department said it was engaged in “high-level” talks about the case with the Rwandan government.

A fierce critic of Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame, Mr Rusesabagina is accused of sponsoring deadly attacks in Rwanda in 2018 and 2019 by the FLN, the armed wing of the Rwandan Movement for Democratic Change (MRCD), a coalition of opposition parties which he heads.

His lawyers have denied the charges against him and say they will appeal Friday’s ruling.

soucre:bbc news

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