The name of Vincent Lurquin is well known in the saga fueled by the trial of Paul Rusesabagina. Since the kidnapping of Paul Rusesabagina, this renowned Belgian lawyer has been fighting relentlessly to help his client, whose trial worries the international community. The refusal to represent his client is categorical, but his persistence bordered on ridiculous scene: he has been kicked out of Rwanda as a prohibited immigrant. Here is the story.
The trial of Paul Rusesabagina is a great challenge both to the Rwandan judicial system, and to international community. The former has demonstrated many procedural errors, from even the “arrest and kidnapping” of Paul Rusesabagina to the refusal of his lawyer, while the latter has been mocked by Rwandan President Paul Kagame, who qualifies any approach in the case of Rusesabagina as a “nonsense” noise. The international community, especially the United States with his new president Joe Biden, seems to be afraid of the strongman of Kigali who does what he wants by claiming to defend the Tutsis whom international community abandoned during the Genocide.
Things got so horrifying and complicated when Kigali went to make the Kigali declarations that make the whole world trembling. Justice Minister Johnston BUSINGYE once publicly confirmed Kigali’s role in the Rusesabagina kidnapping and did not refute the allegations of the interception of the personal documents of Rusesabagina. For the choice of lawyer, the Kigali bar categorically declined any collaboration with the Brussels bar despite the intervention of the Belgian Foreign Minister Sophie WILMES.
This August 19, 2021, Lawyer Vincent Lurquin, once again tried to meet his client Paul RUSESABAGINA, in prison, it was a categorical refusal. Lawyer Vincent Lurquin protested: “I have the right to meet him and no authority in a state of law can refuse me that”. And in his anger, he shouted “Rwanda is violating the most basic rights”, and is indignant that “The judges and the international community are silent”.
Lawyer Vincent Lurquin specified that Belgium had requested three times, through its Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sophie WILMES, that he can be allowed to see his client. “I just received 15 minutes ago the answer to three verbal notes introduced over the past year: they answer is negative and they refuse to let me see my client at the prison; the attorney general of Kigali gave instructions to the Belgian investigating judge to withdraw from his case (…). Can the Kigali public prosecutor’s office really give instructions to an investigating judge in Belgium without anyone standing up against? We have never seen this at the judicial level “.
Lawyer Vincent Lurquin said all of the above during a press conference, symbolically organized from the Hôtel des Milles Collines in Kigali, Rwanda, to recall that the whole ordeal that Paul Rusesabagina is undergoing began there, in an act of extraordinary bravery of saving more than 1000 Tutsis, recognized by the whole world.
But, this August 19, 2021, Lawyer Lurquin did not know that the next day and the day after have more perilous surprises for him than ever. Braving the refusal to see Paul Rusesabagina in prison, Lawyer Vincent Lurquin appeared in court on August 20, 2021, the date when the Chamber of the High Court for International and Cross-border Crimes of Nyarugenge was to pronounce the date to publish the judgment. The date issued is September 20, 2021.
But his presence in court in a lawyer’s gown, which would have been prevented, caused uproar on social media and the Rwandan bar added fuel to the fire by publishing this Tweet
This situation quickly turned into a crisis until Lawyer Vincent Lurquin was suspected of falsifying the documents! Many called for his arrest in the name of Rwanda’s dignity.
The Government spokeswoman Yolande Makolo denounced “crooked behaviour, a flagrant violation of the rules of legal practice in Rwanda“.
The Directorate General of Immigration and Emigration (DGIE), reproached Lawyer Vincent LURQUIN, for this act of appearing in court with the dress of a lawyer while “his visa allowed him to visit the country (…) but not to work”, said Lieutenant Colonel Régis Gatarayiha, Head of the DGIE, to AFP.
Thus, the DGIE took the resolution to expel him in an impromptu manner without any other form of criminal procedure to avoid any diplomatic incident, because “he had violated the law on immigration”.
The information received from the Rwanda Bar Association is that Lawyer Vincent Lurquin was in no way accredited or authorized to practice in Rwanda because there is no treaty with the Belgian Bar Association to guarantee reciprocity. Therefore he is considered a prohibited immigrant and would no longer be allowed to return in Rwanda.
So ends the comedy!
By The Rwandan Analyst