Rwanda: Rusesabagina Trial - Prosecution Seeks 30 More Days of Remand

Paul Rusesabagina.
20 October 2020

Terror suspect Paul Rusesabagina on Tuesday morning appeared before Kicukiro Primary Court where prosecution requested the court to extend his remand period, after the 30 days for which he had been remanded, elapsed.

Addressing the court, prosecution said that there was a lot of progress in their investigations of the case involving Rusesabagina, but added that they still needed more time to put together the file for the suspect and his co-accused.

"During the 30 days, we did a lot in terms of investigating Rusesabagina and his co-accused...we interrogated him once again and continued interrogating more witnesses," said Oscar Butera, one of the two prosecutors.

Prosecution also announced that it had joined the case of Rusesabagina with 18 other suspects, all members of the FLN-MRCD, a militia outfit that attacked and killed people in south-western Rwanda in 2018.

Rusesabagina faces several charges including terrorism, financing terrorism, recruiting child soldiers, kidnapping, arson, and forming terror groups, among others.

Prosecution said that they have so far interrogated nine witnesses and that they are seeking medical expertise on the bodily injuries some of the victims suffered during the attacks and post mortem reports for those that were killed.

At least nine people were killed during the attacks.

Appearing before court alongside his two lawyers, Rusesabagina claimed that he was not Rwandan as reflected in the identity from the court record, urging that it should be corrected to say that he was a Belgian citizen.

Prosecution however countered this, saying that court had already ruled on this matter, saying that he was Rwandan at birth and that the suspect has never given any proof where he denounced and lost his Rwandan citizenship.

"The suspect himself told this court when we appeared here on September 14 that this was his identity, these claims therefore only serve the purpose of delaying court."

On this note, the Judge ruled that discrepancies in Rusesabagina's identity will be examined during the substantive trial.

Addressing court, Emerine Nyembo said that the principle is that an accused is prosecuted while out of custody.

"We believe this is the time for our client to be given this right as given to him by law," she said.

David Rugaza, another defence lawyer said that their client's rights cannot be stampeded by delays in prosecution's way of doing things, saying that the remaining investigations should be conducted while the suspect is out of custody.

"He should be given conditions which he can fulfill and avail himself to court whenever he is needed," said Rugaza.

Court said that the ruling on the request by prosecution will be made on Friday, October 23.

Meanwhile, early this month, prosecution announced that it would merge Rusesabagina's case with that of 16 suspects, all of whom former fighters for FLN, to have a joint trial.

Making the announcement, Prosecutor General Aimable Havugimana said that they will also request court to merge at the substantive phase, the case be merged with that of the two former publicists to the outfit whose case is already ongoing.

The duo is Callixte Nsabimana and Herman Nsengimana who are already on trial at the High Court Chamber for International and Cross Border Crimes located in Nyanza district.

During the hearing, the two defence lawyers announced that they had been joined by Gatera Gashabana whom they said was not able to attend court.

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