Paul Rusesabagina, a hotelier whose heroic actions during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda were depicted in the Oscar-nominated movie “Hotel Rwanda”, has been arrested by Rwandan investigators based on accusations of terrorism. Rusesabagina has been a high-profile government critic of terrorism.
According to CNN, The Rwanda Investigation Bureau (RIB) said Rusesabagina, who lives in Belgium, had been detained “through international cooperation” and was being held at a police station in the capital on serious charges.
“With the cooperation of the international community, Paul Rusesabagina was arrested and he is now in the hands of RIB,” the RIB acting spokesman, Thierry Murangira told reporters in Kigali.
Murangira however did not how give details as to how the arrest occurred or the extent of involvement of international authorities in detaining the outspoken critic of long-ruling President Paul Kagame, claiming doing so “could jeopardise investigations”.
Eric Van Duyse, spokesman for the Belgian federal prosecutor’s office, told AFP they were informed of Rusesabagina’s arrest by Rwandan authorities “but we have no details of the circumstances”.
Murangira said Rusesabagina, who has agitated for political change in Rwanda from abroad, was the subject of an international arrest warrant and “suspected of financing and creating terror groups” operating in East Africa and overseas.
He is accused by investigators of terrorism, arson, kidnap and murder, including against his own countrymen on Rwandan soil in two incidences in June and December 2018.
As depicted in the 2004 Oscar movie, ‘Hotel Rwanda’, during the 1994 genocide, Rusesabagina as manager of Hotel des Diplomates in Kigali, used his influence and connections to shelter 1,268 Tutsis and moderate Hutus from being slaughtered by the Interahamwe militia. American actor, Don Cheadle played his character in film.
From Belgium, where he sought asylum with his wife and children, Rusesabagina began to fiercely criticize Kagame, who has been in power since 1994 when his forces overthrew the genocidal regime.
Rusesabagina has accused Kagame’s government of killing opposition figures and detaining and torturing activists both at home and abroad.
The RIB has labelled the Rwandan Movement for Democratic Change (MRCD), which Rusesabagina co-founded abroad, and its armed wing, the FLN, as “extremist terror outfits”. Rwanda has also accused neighbours, including Burundi and Uganda, of harbouring the group.
Rusesabagina, in a video posted on YouTube in December 2018, said the FLN was seeking to “liberate” Rwanda from an oppressive government in Kigali.
Kagame who was once praised in the Western Capitals for being a reformer, has however been criticised for overseeing constitutional changes to prolong his rule and cancelling all forms and voices of opposition.