Paul Rusesabagina, whose story inspired the film “Hotel Rwanda”, told the New York Times that he planned to go to Burundi to attend religious services before being arrested in late August in Kigali. He is now charged with terrorism, murder and insurrection financing.
Paul Rusesabagina, whose story during the Tutsi genocide in 1994 inspired the film “Hotel Rwanda” and who was arrested in late August in Kigali, was thinking of going to Burundi to attend religious services, he explained. in interview with the New York Times.
“I came here – it’s a surprise,” he said “with a small smile” to the American daily, which published a lengthy investigation on Friday, September 18.
At the end of August, the Rwandan police announced, to everyone ‘s surprise, that Paul Rusesabagina, in exile in the United States and Belgium since 1996, had been arrested in troubled circumstances and that, according to his family, would never have returned from him. also in Rwanda.
Imprisoned in a “Spartan cell”
The interview took place this week at Kigali’s central police station, where Paul Rusesabagina – wearing “an ironed jacket, a white shirt and shiny moccasins” – is being held in a “spartan cell”, reports the American newspaper. .
“In fact, I did not come here,” he told the newspaper, noting his “calm” attitude.
Paul Rusesabagina arrived in Dubai on August 26 from the United States. He spent six hours there before boarding a private jet that he thought was on its way to Bujumbura, the Burundian capital, NYT continues.
“The aircraft is operated by GainJet, a charter company based in Greece and often used by Paul Kagame [le president de la Republique du Rwanda]. It landed just before dawn on August 28 in Kigali, where Rusesabagina was quickly arrested, the newspaper says.
Paul Rusesabagina confirms that he was invited to Burundi by a pastor, Constantin Niyomwungeri, to speak in his churches.
“The pastor could not be reached. Rwandan officials say Paul Rusesabagina’s real goal was to go and coordinate with armed groups based in Burundi and Congo,” NYT continued.
In 2018, Paul Rusesabagina founded Rwanda’s Movement for Democratic Change (MRCD), suspected of having an armed wing, the National Liberation Front (FLN), a group considered a terrorist by Kigali.
Criticism of power
Paul Rusesabagina has publicly expressed his support for the FLN on several occasions, but his possible involvement in the rebel movement, which has already carried out several armed attacks on Rwandan soil, is still unclear.
On Monday, Paul Rusesabagina was charged with terrorism, murder and the financing of insurrection by a court in Kigali.
“Hotel Rwanda” describes how Paul Rusesabagina, a Hutu married to a Tutsi, in 1994 rescued more than 1,200 people in hiding at the Hotel des Mille Collines in Kigali, of which he was a director, and used his influence against the militia. hutu.
After the genocide, he gradually became critical of President Paul Kagame’s power, accusing him of authoritarianism and of inciting anti-Hutu sentiment.