Family, governments and rights groups say Paul Rusesabagina, who saved hundreds of lives during the 1994 Rwandan genocide, did not receive a fair trial.
Former Rwandan hotelier Paul Rusesabagina, accused of saving hundreds of lives during the 1994 genocide, has been found guilty by a Rwandan court of being part of a group responsible for terrorist attacks and sentenced to 25 years in prison.
Rusesabagina, whose heroics during the genocide were portrayed in the 2004 film Hotel Rwanda, boycotted the ruling Monday after saying it did not expect justice in a trial he called fraud.
This is how his family and the rest of the world reacted to the decision:
Rusesabagina’s daughter, Carine Kanimba, said her father should be released and allowed to return home.
This decision means nothing to us. Our father was abducted, Kanimba told Al Jazeera.
He withdrew across international borders in violation of international law. My father knows his rights have been violated, so he decided to stand trial, and that’s all political, she said, adding that her father was a political prisoner.
The charges are completely fabricated.
The girl said her family was very concerned about Rusesabagina’s health and feared he would die in prison.
The US expressed its concern over the Rusesabagina case, saying the former hotelier did not receive a fair trial.
The United States is concerned by the Rwandan government over the sentencing of lawful US permanent resident Paul Rusesabagina, State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement.
The reported lack of guarantees of a fair trial calls into question the fairness of the decision.
We are concerned about the Rwandan Government’s sentencing of US lawful permanent resident Paul Rusesabagina on 20 September. The reported lack of guarantees of a fair trial calls into question the fairness of the decision. https://t.co/PtUFd6Ze0H
Ned Price (@StateDeptSpox) September 20, 2021
We call on the Rwandan Government to take steps to address these shortcomings in the case of Mr Rusesabaginas and to establish safeguards to prevent similar outcomes in the future, he added.
Texas Congressman Joaquin Castro said the Rwandan court ruling was deeply disappointing.
Despite repeated calls from Belgium on this issue, Mr. Rusesabagina did not benefit from a fair and equal trial; particularly with regard to defense rights, Belgian Foreign Minister Sophie Wilmes said in a statement.
Nor was the presumption of innocence respected. These elements call into question de facto judgment and judgment.
The statement said Wilmes would hold talks with her Rwandan counterpart this week on the outskirts of the UN General Assembly in New York.
Belgium, meanwhile, remains in close contact with Mr Rusesabagina, she said.
This was a show trial, and not a fair trial, said Geoffrey Robertson QC, Clooney Foundation expert for TrialWatch Judges on the case.
Prosecution evidence against him was uncovered but not disputed. Given the age of Mr. Rusesabaginas and poor health, this severe sentence is likely to be a death sentence.
“Rwanda Hotel” figure Paul Rusesabagina has been found guilty of terrorism-related charges following a case in Rwanda that reached just over a show trial. Below is a statement from our legal expert. More coming soon. pic.twitter.com/6AJ2aUp3BG
TrialWatch (@TrialWatch) September 20, 2021
There were numerous violations of the fair trial including the arrest of Rusesabagina under false pretenses and illegal transfer to Rwanda, the enforced disappearance and ban on communication following his extradition to Rwanda, according to Sarah Jackson, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for Africa East, Horn of Africa and Great Lakes.
Violations of the fair trial in this case were an unfair service to justice and to the victims and survivors of the attacks for which Rusesabagina and others were accused of being responsible.
Human Rights Watch
New York-based Human Rights Watch said there were numerous violations of the right to a fair trial and that Rwandan courts were defeated by political influence.
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