By Erasme Rugemintwaza
It is now more than a year since Paul Rusesagabina, “kidnapped” by the Government of Rwanda, is on trial. Finally, the verdict of this trial whose errors and mistakes have worried the whole world, has fallen: convicted of “terrorism”, Rusesabagina is sentenced to 25 years in prison.
Neither the accused nor his lawyers were present as the verdict was read. Because since March 2021, Paul Rusesabagina has resolved to distrust, raising in the Court an exception of legitimate suspicion implying that he was no longer going to appear there since he did not hope to enjoy a fair trial in a clearly biased jurisdiction. He denounced a purely “political” trial, made possible by his “kidnapping” hatched by the government in Kigali.
Paul Rusesabagina case has worried the world since his arrest in August 2020, which is the most egregious human rights violation. Whether the European Union, the United States, Belgium, his family, his lawyer the Belgian Vincent Lurquin, international organizations such as HRW, the Lantos Foundation, all have, one moment or another, shown that this trial is off to a bad start, which does not guarantee fairness. Everyone denounced “a spectacle set up by the Rwandan government to silence a critic and cool any future dissent.”
In several interviews Paul Kagame, meanwhile, repeated: “Of course, I appeal for a fair trial on my side. It’s not the UK nor the US, nor the European Union. No, I want to see a fair trial too. Why? Yeah, you know, that’s how people say crazy things and end up being racist. It’s like saying, the only way to be fair in Africa or Rwanda is for it to be monitored by Europe, the United States, or some other country. Never.”
On September 5, 2021, in a press conference Paul Kagame stressed that Rusesabagina is not being prosecuted for his film which is moreover fictional or for his celebrity as a film player, rather for his role in terrorist acts than himself prides himself to have done. Because, if it was for his film, he would have been apprehended for a very long time. “These are the lives of Rwandans lost as a result of his actions and because of his [terrorist] organizations to which he belonged or led,” Kagame said. He concludes: “Those who make a lot of noise about his case don’t even ask who his co-defendants are. They think he has immunity. And yet these people seem to mean, this one, whatever he did, don’t touch him. These screams are absolutely nothing, everything has been explained. This man will be fairly judged by a court of law.”
Today, September 20, 2021, in Court, on the subject of Rusesabagina, co-accused with 20 other people, Judge Béatrice Mukamurenzi declared: “He founded a terrorist organization; he contributed financially to terrorist activities.” The sentence is 25 years in prison.
However, Paul Rusesabagina has the right to appeal.