Court to rule on Rusesabagina’s bail appeal as Sankara’s lawyer speaks out on merging cases

The Nyarugenge Intermediate Court will on Friday afternoon decide on an appeal filed by Paul Rusesabagina against his 30-day remand.

Rusesabagina who is facing 13 charges including terrorism and murder linked to activities of National Liberation Front (FLN), a militia group that claimed responsibility for a series of attacks in Nyungwe forest in 2018 in which lives were lost and property destroyed.

 

The FLN was founded by a collective of outfits under an umbrella called MRCD, which Rusesabagina headed.

 

The 66-year-old was sent on remand mid-last month by the Kicukiro Primary Court, a decision he appealed against on September 25 in the Nyarugenge Intermediate Court.

 

After the court decides on whether to grant him bail or not, the next stage will most likely be to hand his file over to the Nyanza-based High Court Chamber for International Crimes which has jurisdiction over the substantive hearing of cases of this caliber.

Meanwhile, there is a possibility of merging the substantive hearing of his case with that of Callixte Nsabimana a.k.a Sankara, a former spokesperson of the FLN outfit that was created by Rusesabagina and his colleagues.

During a hearing last month, Nsabimana asked court that his case be merged with that of Rusesabagina, saying that as the political figurehead of the outfit, Rusesabagina it was prudent that they are tried together.

However judges said that it was still early because Rusesabagina’s case was still in the pre-trial phase.

During an earlier appearance in court, Rusesabagina admitted to having connection with the FLN, but said he was not directly linked to its operations, adding that his role was mainly on the diplomatic front.

He said that he had sent money, about 20,000 Euros to Nsabimana, and that he helped fundraise for the outfit.

Prosecution said that a fundraising drive led by Rusesabagina to fund FLN activities had raised as much as 300,000 Euros. 

Nsabimana’s substantive trial has already been conjoined with that of Herman Nsengimana another senior member of the FLN outfit who was captured and repatriated from the DRC this year.

Nsengimana had replaced Nsabimana as the spokesperson of FLN until his capture and repatriation to Rwanda.

Speaking to The New Times on Thursday, Moise Nkundabarashi, the lawyer for Nsabimana explained the conditions necessary for merging trials, saying that cases must be before the same court and all of them must have not been decided upon.

The other criterion, which is probably most important, court must determine a link between the cases involved and that the court must have the jurisdiction to try them all.

So, considering these conditions, Rusesabagina stands chance to be tried along with Nsengimana and Nsabimana since their cases are most likely to be all in the same court.

However, other FLN suspects may not be conjoined with the trio, since the courts are different. For instance, some former FLN fighters are being tried in the military court.

Nkundabarashi told The New Times that when the trials are merged, it will not imply that his client’s case is dragged back, because everything that was discussed in the previous hearings is on court record.

Nkundabarashi said that he and his client is okay with the merging of the two cases if court finds it right, adding that he took the approach of cooperating with court since the start of the trial.

hkuteesa@newtimesrwanda.com

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