Belgium says ‘Hotel Rwanda’ hero did not get fair trial
Belgium on Monday said that “Hotel Rwanda” hero and Belgian citizen Paul Rusesabagina did not receive a fair trial, after he was sentenced to 25 years in prison in Kigali on terror charges.
“Despite repeated appeals from Belgium on this matter… Mr Rusesabagina did not benefit from a fair and equitable trial; particularly with regard to the rights of the defence,” Belgium’s Foreign Minister Sophie Wilmes said in a statement.
“The presumption of innocence was not respected either. These elements de facto call into question the trial and the judgement.”
The statement said Wilmes would hold talks with her Rwandan counterpart this week on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York.
“In the meantime, Belgium remains in close contact with Mr Rusesabagina,” it said.
Rwanda’s high court on Monday convicted Rusesabagina — credited with saving over 1,200 lives during the 1994 genocide — of forming a rebel group blamed for deadly gun, grenade and arson attacks in Rwanda in 2018 and 2019.
Rusesabagina, who used his fame from the Hollywood film he inspired to denounce Rwandan leader Paul Kagame as a “dictator”, has been behind bars since his arrest in August 2020 when a plane he believed was bound for Burundi landed instead in Kigali.
His family has slammed the verdict as politically motivated and say he was kidnapped by the Rwandan authorities.