Rwanda: Court Adjourns Case Against 'Hotel Rwanda' Hero Over Jurisdiction Query

A Rwandan court will decide on Friday on whether it proceeds with the trial of Paul Rusesabagina after he objected to being tried as a Rwandan citizen and stated that he is Belgian.

Judges during the first day of the trial on Wednesday said they needed more time to deliberate on the issue.

Mr Rusesabagina's defence lawyer Gatera Gashaba had raised the matter of the court's jurisdiction in hearing the case, a point that was challenged by the prosecution lawyer who argued that the court had jurisdiction to hear the case.

"This court does not have the powers and the jurisdiction to try Mr Rusesabagina and we request that he is sent to Belgium for trial," Mr Gashaba told the court.

Lead Prosecutor Bonaventure Ruberwa told the three-judge panel that Rusesabagina committed crimes on Rwandan territory, and Rwanda had previously requested Belgian prosecutors to charge him and try him from Belgium as a dual citizen.

"He has never renounced his Rwandan citizenship even as he holds Belgium nationality. We request the court to disregard his claim," Mr Ruberwa said.

"Rusesabagina was questioned in 2011, and in 2012 we wrote to Belgium demanding cooperation that they try him for crimes committed under his affiliation with the FDLR rebels, and we wrote referring to him as a Rwandan with dual citizenship as a Belgian.

"Therefore, regardless of the nationality, Rwandan laws are very clear. For a crime committed on Rwandan soil against Rwandans, our courts have the jurisdiction to try the suspect."

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