Paul Rusesabagina, the “Hotel Rwanda” hero turned government critic, was denied access to the Kigali prison where his client is being held awaiting the outcome of his terrorism trial and deported to Belgium. Rwandan authorities deported Vincent Lurquin and declared him persona non grata for violating immigration laws.
The Rwanda Bar Association filed a complaint against Lurquin because he was not licensed to practice in Rwanda. He claims that he hasn’t seen his client in more than a year.
The fact that I haven’t seen my client is the root of the problem. They wouldn’t let me see my client; I went to see the President of the Bar, who didn’t want to see me; I went to see the Attorney General, who didn’t want to see me; the Minister of Foreign Affairs, who didn’t want to see me; and the Minister of Justice, who didn’t want to see me. However, in Belgium, the Foreign Minister contacted his counterpart.
The Federal Prosecutor’s Office has done the same, and they refuse to respond, and they refuse to allow me to see him. According to Vincent, Because Lurquin was not licensed to practice in Rwanda, the Rwanda Bar Association filed a complaint.
According to authorities, Vincent entered Rwanda on a visitation visa and was not permitted to work there. The judiciary in Rwanda announced on Friday that a delayed verdict in Paul Rusesabagina’s terrorism trial would be delivered next month. The ruling in the case against Russabagina, 67, was originally scheduled for Friday but was postponed without explanation.
The Rwandan judiciary announced on Twitter on September 20 at 11 a.m. that the verdict against Rusesabagina and his 20 co-accused would be announced. Prosecutors want Rusesabagina, the former hotelier who is credited with saving hundreds of lives during the 1994 genocide, and the bravery of the man who inspired the Hollywood film “Hotel Rwanda,” to be sentenced to life in prison.
The government of President Paul Kagame accused him of supporting the National Liberation Front (FLN), a rebel group responsible for nine fatal attacks in Rwanda in 2018 and 2019. Rusesabagina has denied any involvement in the attacks, but he was a founding member of the Rwandan Movement for Democratic Change (MRCD), an opposition group that included the FLN as an armed wing. His family and supporters are adamant that the charges against him are baseless, and they have campaigned for his release around the world.
Rusesabagina, who used his celebrity to denounce Kagame as a dictator as a result of the 2004 film, was arrested in August 2020 when a plane he thought was bound for Burundi instead landed in Kigali.
The trial started in February, but Rusesabagina, a Belgian citizen with a green card in the United States, has been boycotting it since March, accusing the court of unfairness and a lack of independence.