Activist Paul Rusesabagina appears in court on terrorism and murder charges


Businessman and activist,Paul Rusesabagina, has appeared in court in Rwanda’s capital, Kigali, facing charges of terrorism and murder.


Rusesabagina, whose role in saving more than 1,000 lives inspired the film Hotel Rwanda,was brought to the court under heavy security.


Rwandan authorities have accused Rusesabagina of being “the founder, leader, sponsor and member of violent, armed, extremist group National Liberation Front (FLN), which stages attacks on Rwanda.


Accompanied by lawyers appointed by the authorities, Rusesabagina declined to respond to all 13 charges against him and asked that he be given bail, assuring the court that he would not flee from justice.


It is unclear how Rusesabagina, who flew to Dubai from his home in the US, was brought to Rwanda. Officials in Kigali have said he was arrested on what they described as “an international warrant”.


Supporters believe that the Rwandan government are wanting to make this a “show trial” in which Rusesabagina will be pressured to confess to crimes he did not commit.


Kagame has denied Rusesabagina was kidnapped, but suggested he had been the victim of some kind of trick.


Mr Rusesabagina's name recently came up in a terrorism case, and back in 2011, he was accused of funding subversion in Rwanda, but no charges were brought.


Rusesabagina, who was the general manager of the luxury Mille Collines hotel in Kigali during the 1994 genocide, in which an estimated 800,000 people were killed with knives, clubs and other weapons,received several human rights awards for his efforts during the genocide, including the US Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005 and the Human Rights Prize by the Lantos Foundation in 2011.


The 2004 film Hotel Rwanda told the story of how Mr Rusesabagina, a middle-class Hutu married to a Tutsi woman and used his influence and bribery to save the lives of 1,200 people during the worst of the massacres.


The government has, over the years, been accused of hunting down dissidents overseas. South African investigators have said the government was directly involved in the killing of Patrick Karegeya, an outspoken critic, in Johannesburg in 2014.


President Kagame's critics also accuse him of not tolerating any opposition. Several opposition leaders have been jailed and others fled into exile.


Amnesty International called on Rwandan authorities to reveal the circumstances of Rusesabagin’s arrest, and exactly what transpired between Thursday 27 August and 31 August.