Rwanda’s president has denied that the man who inspired a Hollywood film on the country’s 1994 genocide and who is being detained in Kigali was “kidnapped” by the authorities.
Paul Kagame on Sunday said Paul Rusesabagina had “brought himself” in. His daughters have said Mr Rusesabagina, a Belgian citizen and US resident, was abducted while in Dubai and taken to Rwanda against his will.
“Let me eliminate the one [theory] of him being kidnapped. That was not the case. And Rusesabagina can attest that himself. There was no kidnap, there was not any wrongdoing in the process of his getting here. He got here on the basis of what he believed and wanted to do,” Mr Kagame told journalists. The process was “flawless”, he added.
A critic of the government and a divisive figure in his home country, Mr Rusesabagina was arrested last week on charges that include terrorism, kidnap and murder, accusations two of his daughters denied.
“He would never go to Rwanda of his own will because of the way the Rwandan government has been attacking him,” Anaïse Kanimba, one of his daughters, told the Financial Times last week.
Mr Rusesabagina won international acclaim after the success of the 2004 film Hotel Rwanda, in which he was portrayed by Don Cheadle. In his 2006 autobiography, An Ordinary Man, based on his experiences during the genocide — in which some 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed — he describes how he was able to hide more than 1,200 people inside the Hôtel des Mille Collines in Kigali. Critics have contested his account.
The details of his detention remain unclear. In a brief interview with the East African newspaper on Thursday, Mr Rusesabagina was quoted as saying “I have been treated with kindness” and that he was ready to face terror charges against him.
Rwandan authorities allege Mr Rusesabagina is involved with armed groups accused of attacks in the country. In a video from December 2018, Mr Rusesabagina is described as president of the MRCD, which has a militant arm known as the FLN. He is seen calling on “our youth” of the FLN to go “against the Kagame army”.
“These groups, FLN, MRCD, that Rusesabagina was leading, or is one of the leaders, killed people in the southwestern part of the country,” Mr Kagame said. “There are many recordings about that, he himself bragging about it.”
The Rwandan president said Mr Rusesabagina would stand trial and it “will be done in the open” for those “interested in transparency, in fairness”.
Carine Kanimba, one of Mr Rusesabagina’s daughters, had denied the allegations, saying the video had been misinterpreted and calling her father “a man of peace”.