A Kigali court has denied bail to Paul Rusesabagina, whose actions during the 1994 Rwandan genocide inspired the Oscar-nominated film Hotel Rwanda, ahead of his trial on numerous charges including “terrorism”.
Rusesabagina, who has become a high-profile government critic and has been living in exile for years, appeared last month under arrest in Kigali in murky circumstances, with his family alleging he was kidnapped abroad.
Prosecutors on Monday hit him with 13 charges including terrorism, financing and founding rebel groups, murder, arson and conspiracy to involve children in armed groups.
“The court finds that the charges by the prosecution against Rusesabagina are grave and serious,” Judge Dorothy Yankurije said as she blocked his bail request on Thursday.
The court ordered that Rusesabagina be detained provisionally for at least 30 days pending his trial. Rusesabagina, who had asked to be released to seek medical care, immediately announced he would appeal the decision. He has five days to do so.
The denial of bail further alarmed his family, who along with some human rights and legal groups have expressed concern that his arrest is the latest example of Rwanda targeting critics.
“We have no hope that he can be given fair justice in Rwanda and ask for his immediate release,” his daughter Carine Kanimba said on social media.
The 66-year-old Rusesabagina is a cancer survivor and suffers from a heart condition and hypertension, requiring chronic medication, his family have said previously.
“The health concerns brought by Mr Rusesabagina are baseless since he does not show how being in detention prevents him from accessing all the medical attention he needs,
Two observers from the US embassy attended the brief hearing on Thursday.
Rusesabagina became famous as the former manager of a luxury hotel who sheltered hundreds of Tutsis during the genocide in which some 800,000 people – mostly Tutsis but also Hutus – were killed.
For his efforts he was awarded the US Presidential Medal of Freedom.
After the genocide, Rusesabagina – a Hutu – became increasingly critical of President Paul Kagame’s Tutsi-dominated government, accusing his governing party of authoritarianism and anti-Hutu sentiment.
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