KIGALI, Rwanda (AFP) — Paul Rusesabagina, the man whose actions during Rwanda’s 1994 genocide were celebrated in the film “Hotel Rwanda”, did not order 2018 rebel attacks of which he is accused, a fellow defendant said in court Thursday.
Rusesabagina “did not give orders to FLN fighters”, said the former senior member of the National Liberation Front (FLN) rebel group, Herman Nsengimana.
Celebrated internationally for the tale depicted in “Hotel Rwanda” of how he saved thousands of lives during the 1994 mass killings of 800,000 mostly Tutsi people, Rusesabagina had been living in exile in the US and Belgium until his arrival in Rwanda in murky circumstances last August.
He was arrested on the tarmac as he disembarked from a plane he believed was headed for Burundi and now faces nine charges including terrorism.
The charges turn on his founding in 2017 of the Rwandan Movement for Democratic Change (MRCD), of which the FLN is seen as the armed wing.
“I did not have any meeting or interaction with Rusesabagina. I did not even have his phone number,” said Nsengimana, one of 20 former rebels also in the dock.
“As a soldier, there was a difference between our structures and structures of civilian leaders,” he added.
Rusesabagina admits involvement in founding the FLN, but has repeatedly denied any involvement in attacks that killed nine civilians in June and August 2018.
“Rusesabagina did not give FLN fighters orders. Our orders came from general Wilson Irategeka,” Nsengimana said.
But another defendant, Callixte Nsabimana, claimed at the opening of the trial that Rusesabagina did in fact give all the orders.
Rusesabagina himself and his lawyers have shunned the court hearings since March 25, saying they haven’t had enough time to prepare and calling the proceedings biased.
The court has now adjourned until May 6.
© Agence France-Presse