Rwanda: Prosecution Pins Rusesabagina on Terror Acts of Battery, Arson

The substantive trial of Paul Rusesabagina and 20 others with whom he is co-accused of perpetrating terror activities on Rwandan soil continued this Wednesday, April 21.

The group is being prosecuted in relation to attacks launched in various parts of the country in 2018 and 2019 by FLN, a military wing of the MRCD party led by Paul Rusesabagina.

The hearing was once again skipped by Paul Rusesabagina as he continues with his vow to not take part in the trial again saying he expects no justice from the court.

Prosecutors in charge of the case spent time explaining to the judges the connections between the different acts of terror committed by FLN operatives in southwestern Rwanda to Rusesabagina, the founding president of the outfit's political wing, MRCD.

Prosecutor Bonaventure Ruberwa presented to court the various damages caused by FLN's acts of terror including shooting, battery, and lobbing grenades at civilians in the districts of Rusizi, Nyamagabe and Nyaruguru where at least nine people lost their lives, while others sustained permanent disabilities.

He further talked about the destruction of property done in a way of terrorizing citizens, where vehicles, motorbikes and other properties including a house were set on fire by the FLN assailants.

According to Ruberwa, though Rusesabagina was not on field to participate in the crimes as they were being committed, he bears responsibility, according to law since he was the head of the MRCD and FLN.

He also spearheaded the funding for the militia group.

Ruberwa made reference to Article 19 of the 2018 anti-terrorism law that stipulates if terror crimes involve "a leader of the group or any other person who played a role in its (a terror group's) formation, the penalty is an imprisonment for a term of not less than twenty years but not more than twenty-five years."

He argued that the fact that Rusesabagina was the leader of the FLN and one of its financers, he is to be held responsible of the terror acts committed by the group.

On the same day, prosecution presented charges against Marc Nizeyimana, one of the commanders of the FLN who were caught and deported by Congolese armed forces in February 2020.

According to prosecutor Claudine Dushimimana, Nzeyimana was responsible of selecting 'battle-hardened' fighters who constituted the group that attacked Rwanda to commit the atrocities against unarmed civilians between 2018 and 2019.

He is charged with being part of a terror group, and participating in terrorism activities including murder, battery, looting and so on.

He is also charged with conspiring with a foreign government or its officials to fight against the government of Rwanda. According to prosecution he worked with some military personnel in Burundi in some of the activities like procurement of weapons among other acts.

Though Nizeyimana admitted in the statements he made before prosecution that he partnered with Burundian officials; he said that they dealt with them on individual basis, not as the Government of Burundi.

If a person is convicted of working with a foreign government, its officials or institutions with an aim of making war against Rwanda, the punishment is life imprisonment if it is in a time of war, but in a time of peace; he or she is given a jail term that is not under 20 years, but not above 25 years.

The presiding judge Antoine Muhima adjourned the case to Thursday, April 21.

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