Murky arrest of ‘Hotel Rwanda’ hero an ‘enforced disappearance’: HRW

NAIROBI (AFP) – Human Rights Watch (HRW) said yesterday that the shadowy arrest of the hero of the Hotel Rwanda film amounted to an “enforced disappearance”, demanding a full account of how he returned to the country.

Paul Rusesabagina became famous after the movie depicted how the moderate Hutu sheltered hundreds of Tutsi at a luxury hotel during Rwanda’s 1994 genocide that left some 800,000, mostly Tutsi, dead. He had been living in exile in the United States (US) until he suddenly appeared under arrest in Rwanda 10 days ago, accused of murder, terrorism and financing rebels.

His family believes he was kidnapped while on a trip to Dubai, arguing he would never return of his own accord to Rwanda.

“Rwanda has an established track record of using unlawful, cloak-and-dagger methods to target those it perceives to be a threat to the ruling party,” said Central Africa Director at Human Rights Watch Lewis Mudge in a statement.

“The fact that Rwanda did not pursue Rusesabagina through lawful extradition proceedings suggests the authorities do not believe their evidence or fair trial guarantees would stand up to scrutiny before an independent tribunal, and so opted to circumvent the rule of law.”

The rights group said the fact Rusesabagina was held for three days before his arrest was announced, means they had committed an “enforced disappearance”, an international crime.

File photo of Paul Rusesabagina with Angelina Jolie in Beverly Hills, California. PHOTO: AP