A Court in the Rwandan capital Kigali has Monday charged Hotel Rwanda hero Paul Rusesabagina with terrorism and set September 17th as the day it will make a ruling on whether he is granted bail or not.
Rusesabagina was appearing before Kagarama Primary court for his pre-trial hearing in which prosecution sought to detain him for 30 days pending investigations; while he sought to be released on bail.
Rusesabagina who arrived aboard Rwanda Investigation Bureau detainees van hand cuffed, was read 12charges which included terrorism, arson, complicity in murder, forming or joining an irregular armed group among others.
He refused to take a plea on each of the charges saying that while he accepts committing some of them he doesn’t think they qualify as criminal offences.
“He doesn’t want to end up incriminating himself,” his lawyer told the court.
Rusesabagena reportedly disappeared from Dubai only to end up in handcuffs at a press conference in Kigali being paraded. His family has maintained he was kidnapped noting that sources have told them that Rusesabagena was at Kigali Airport removed from a plane on a stretcher.
In court it was not explained how he arrived in Kigali. Prosecution only said he was arrested at Kigali International airport contrary to what Rwanda Investigation Bureau.the investigations body said he was arrested through international cooperation.
In court, Rusesabagena who has been in detention for two weeks was represented by lawyers David Rugaza and Emeline Nyembo who his family says have been imposed on him by the Rwandan government.
In his initial submission, defense lawyer Rubaza said the court had no jurisdiction to try his client noting that his current domicile is not the court’s jurisdiction; he should not be held responsible for crimes committed by parties in which his own party had entered partnership and he is not Rwandan citizen.
Prosecution however, argued that the jurisdiction of the court should not arise because the case is still in the pre-trial detention phase and this court has the competence to adjudicate this matter.
“Rusesabagina was arrested at Kigali International Airport which is in the jurisdiction of this court,” the prosecution stated.
However the Court invalidated objections by defense lawyers, and said it would proceed to conduct the pre-trial hearing.
“Since Rusesabagina was arrested at Kigali International Airport gives this court territorial jurisdiction to try the pre-trial hearing,” the court ruled.
When contacted, Carine Kanimba, Rusesabagina’s daughter said that as family they are not aware of his appearing in court.
“We haven’t been informed about his court appearance, one wonders what kind of justice he going to get if they can’t even inform his family,” Kanimba said
In part of the evidence presented to court to deny Rusesabagena bail, Prosecution said they had in custody telephone charts with former FDLR Commander one Irategeka, evidence retrieved from his home when Beligian police searched him, paperwork that was handed to Rwanda showing the money trail from Rusesabagina to militia outfits in this region among others
“Resesabagina admitted to investigators that he himself contributed 20,000 Euros to FLN militia and championed fundraising drives through which 300,000 Euros were raised,” prosecution said.
Prosecution added that before he was arrested, he was being investigated by both Belgian Police and FBI and he is well aware of the charges against him.
On taking the stand, Rusesabagina told the court that he had spoken extensively about his crimes with both prosecution and investigators about the crimes he is accused of and had little or nothing to add.
“All my responses to these accusations are well documented in my file before court and I will not add anything to my written submission,” Rusesabagina told the court.
Asked by court to elaborate more on his alleged crimes, Rusesabagina said his answers during the questioning were precise.
“I responded to the crimes that FLN militia committed on Rwanda territory,this was not the mission we had given them, I also apologized for this,” he said.
Defense lawyers asked the court to dismiss prosecution’s evidence saying it lacked substance.
“What prosecution terms as serious incriminating evidence to the effect that Rusesabagina formed an armed group are two documents that were retrieved from his computer. They are not even and should not be admitted in court,” Nyembo, one of the defense counsels, told the court.
Nyembo told the court that Rusesabagina was sick and should be granted bail.
“Our client is sick and has already submitted to court. He will follow all restrictions imposed by court,” she said, adding that “He is not a flight risk because travel documents are with prosecution.”
Rusesabegina himself told the court that he is sick and has been to hospital a couple of times in the last one week.
“Like my lawyers have said am sick, In the past two weeks , I have been to hospital three times, I request am given bail and I won’t flee from justice,” Rusesabagina told the court.
After listening to submissions from both sides, the court set 17th this month as the day when it pronounces itself on whether he is detained or granted bail.