‘Hotel Rwanda’ hero arrested on terror charges

KIGALI, RWANDA (AP) — Paul Rusesabagina, portrayed in the film Hotel Rwanda as a hero who saved the lives of over 1,200 people from the country’s 1994 genocide, has been arrested by the Rwandan government on terror charges, police announced on Monday.

A well-known critic of President Paul Kagame, Rusesabagina had been living outside Rwanda since 1996 and police did not say where he was apprehended. He had been living in Belgium and then in Texas in the United States (US).

Rusesabagina’s daughter told the Associated Press (AP) that he travelled last week from the US to Dubai, where she alleged he was kidnapped and taken to Rwanda but did not provide evidence to substantiate the claim.

In handcuffs and a facemask, Rusesabagina, 66, was shown to the press in Rwanda’s capital, Kigali, on Monday by police. He has not yet been formally charged in court.

“Through international cooperation, the Rwanda Bureau of Investigation wants to inform the general public that Paul Rusesabagina has been arrested,” police said in a statement on Monday.

FILE – In this Thursday, Dec. 2, 2004 file photo, Paul Rusesabagina, the inspiration for the film “Hotel Rwanda,” poses with actress Angelina Jolie at the premiere of the film at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences in Beverly Hills, California. PHOTO: AP

“Rusesabagina is suspected to be the founder, leader, sponsor and member of violent, armed, extremist terror outfits including the Rwanda Movement for Democratic Change (MRCD) operating out of various places in the region and abroad,” police said.

Rwanda’s police said they had issued an arrest warrant for Rusesabagina to answer charges of serious crimes including terrorism, arson, kidnap and murder, perpetrated against unarmed, innocent Rwandan civilians on Rwandan territory. Police told the media in Kigali that investigations against Rusesabagina will continue and more information will be released about his alleged activities.

Carine Kanimba, Rusesabagina’s daughter, said the family was informed early Monday that he was being held in Rwanda. She said none of the family has been able to speak to him and they are worried he may not be getting his hypertension medication.

Kanimba, 27, reached in Washington DC, said she last spoke with Rusesabagina last week before he flew to Dubai, but that she didn’t know the exact purpose of his trip.

The state-owned RwandAir has direct flights between Dubai and Kigali.

Rusesabagina is a Belgian citizen and a permanent resident of the US, Kanimba said.

“We’re hoping to secure his release quickly and safely,” she said.

Kanimba said her father has long been a target because of his vocal criticism of the Rwandan government.

“What they’re accusing him of is all made up,” she said.

“There is no evidence to what they’re claiming. We know this is a wrongful arrest.”

Rusesabagina has previously denied the government’s charges that he financially supports Rwandan rebels.

Rusesabagina has been a prominent critic of Kagame’s government, calling it a dictatorship and urging Western countries to press the government to respect human rights.