Rusesabagina challenges his detention before Nyarugenge Intermediate Court

Paul Rusesabagina interacts with his lawyers during the hearing at Nyarugenge Intermediate Court on 25 September 2020. Sam Ngendahimana

Terror suspect Paul Rusesabagina on Friday, September 26 appeared before Nyarugenge Intermediate Court where he challenged the decision by a lower court to remand him for 30 days. 

Appearing in the pink prison uniform for the first time, Rusesabagina together with his lawyers, told court that Kicukiro Primary Court had disregarded some of the submissions he made to ask for bail.

 

"The law of criminal procedure states that detention of a suspect should be the exception and not the norm. Prosecution has not given enough evidence to warrant his arrest," said David Rugaza, one of Rusesabagina's lawyers.

 

Rusesabagina, 66, faces 13 counts linked to activities by FLN, an armed group that made attacks in south-western Rwanda, killing at least nine people.

 

During the same attacks, dozens of other people were injured and property was looted or destroyed.

While he told the court that he was one of the political leaders of FLN, Rusesabagina insisted that he had no direct knowledge of the atrocities they committed.

"I was in charge of diplomacy and whereas a coalition of political organisations agreed to form the armed group, it was not under my docket," he told the court presided over by Adolphe Udahemuka.

However, prosecution charged that this was not true, saying that most atrocities were committed during the time Rusesabagina was the president of MRCD, the coalition for which FLN was the armed wing, and he had full knowledge of it.

"Rusesabagina was the president of MRCD between 2017 and 2019 during which the attacks in south-western Rwanda and other criminal activities," Oscar Butera, one of the prosecutors said.

The prosecutor added that the fact that Rusesabagina, by his own admission, contributed financially to FLN, as another reason he cannot distance himself from its activities.

"He himself stated before the lower court that he contributed financially towards FLN where he said he gave them 20,000 Euros. He also said he led a fundraising drive through which over 300,0000 euros were raised," said the prosecutor.

However Rusesabagina said that the armed wing was under his colleague, "Gen" Wilson Irategeka was in charge of the militia group's activities. 

Irategeka, who headed CNRD, a splinter group from FDLR, was in December last year killed during an offensive against armed groups by Congolese armed forces.

Charges against Rusesabagina

According to prosecution, Rusesabagina is accused of creation and being part of an irregular armed group, financing terrorism, terror activities for political gains, conspiracy to commit terror activities, commanding terror acts and being part of a terrorist group.

He also faces the count of conspiracy and encouraging others to join a terror group, conspiracy to murder, conspiracy to kidnap, conspiracy to armed robbery, conspiracy to commit arson, conspiracy to aggravated assault and conspiracy to conscript children in an armed group.

The ruling on Rusesabagina's bail appeal will be made on October 2.

fkimenyi@newtimesrwanda.com

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