US News The activist who inspired the film "Hotel Rwanda" admits to having formed a rebel group

19:15  25 september  2020
19:15  25 september  2020 Source:   france24.com

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Paul Rusesabagina, whose film "Hotel Rwanda" traces the heroic journey during the genocide, admitted on Friday before the Kigali court to have participated in the creation of a rebel group, while denying any involvement in crimes.

Paul Rusesabagina, who in 1994 saved more than 1,200 people and whose journey inspired the film "Hotel Rwanda" , admitted, Friday, September 25, during a hearing in front of the Kigali court, to have participated to the creation of a rebel group . However, he rejected any involvement in his crimes.

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Paul Rusesabagina was made famous by the Hollywood movie released in 2004 which tells how the former manager of the Hotel des Mille Collines, in Kigali, a moderate Hutu, saved thousands of lives during the genocide that killed 800,000 people , mainly Tusti, in Rwanda

In 2017, he founded the Rwandan Movement for Democratic Change (MRCD), a political party suspected of having an armed wing, the National Liberation Front (FLN), a group considered terrorist by Kigali.

Paul Rusesabagina had publicly expressed his support for the FLN on several occasions, but his possible involvement in the movement, which claimed responsibility for several attacks in Nyungwe, near the Burundian border, remained unclear.

Prosecuted for terrorism

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"We formed the FLN as an armed wing, not as a terrorist group as the prosecutor said. I do not deny that the FLN committed crimes, but my role was diplomacy," he said. he clarified on Friday.

"The agreement we signed to form the MRCD, as a political platform, included the formation of an armed wing called the FLN. But my role was to work for this political platform and I was in charge of diplomacy. ", he added.

Since his arrest last month, in circumstances both incredible and troubled, and after years of exile in Belgium and the United States, the image of Paul Rusesabagina has become more complex.

Paul Rusesabagina is now being prosecuted for terrorism, murder, creation and financing of rebellion, arson, and conspiracy to involve children in armed groups.

Friday, he appeared wearing the pink prison uniform, and a pink mask, to appeal last week's refusal to grant him bail.

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During a previous hearing, Paul Rusesabagina admitted having sent 20,000 euros to the FLN commander Callixte Nsabimana, alias Sankara, but he denied any funding for the group's activities, explaining that it was financial support staff.

Callixte Nsabimana claimed responsibility for several attacks on social networks, including the fire of a bus in 2018, which left two dead and many injured. Arrested and prosecuted in Rwanda in 2019, he had however tried to distance himself from the killings of civilians in court.

"When we attacked the Nyungwe region, we had given the FLN the precise order that whatever their operations were to destroy bridges, to carry out ambushes on military vehicles, to attack government offices as well as police and military camps. We did not expect them to attack civilians, "Callixte Nsabimana said.

The attacks had led many Western countries to advise their nationals not to travel to the Nyungwe region, popular with tourists for its mountain gorillas.

A dog-eared image

In 2018, in a video supporting the FLN, Paul Rusesabagina said: "The time has come for us to use all possible means to bring about change in Rwanda because all political means have been tried and have failed."

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Paul Rusesabagina left Rwanda in 1996 with other moderates who saw the country as offering less and less space to the opposition.

After the release of "Hôtel Rwanda", his international notoriety had pushed him to criticize President Paul Kagame, whom he accuses of authoritarianism and of fueling anti-Hutu sentiment - a very sensitive subject.

Little by little, his image deteriorated in his country. Critics have accused him of embellishing his exploits, and survivors of taking advantage of their misery, while his supporters say the regime has worked to tarnish its image.

His family believes that the charges against him are political. She also believes that he would never have returned to Rwanda on his own. .

In an interview with the New York Times, carried out in his cell in the presence of two Rwandan officials, Paul Rusesabagina said that in Dubai he thought of boarding a private jet bound for Burundi, and not Rwanda.

The court will rule on his new request for release on October 2.

With AFP

DRC: President Tshisekedi tries, in vain, to calm things down in the Karega affair .
Video: Belarus: the opponent Tikhanovskaïa calls on Macron to be a "mediator" (AFP) Your browser does not support this video © JOHN WESSELS / AFP (illustration) On August 24, 1998, according to the UN, RCD rebels and their Rwandan military allies did indeed massacre more than a thousand civilians in villages in South Kivu. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, President Félix Tshisekedi calms things down.

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