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Global Attention On Rwanda At Trial Of Paul Rusesabagina, Kagame’s Critic

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Global Attention On Rwanda At Trial Of Paul Rusesabagina, Kagame's Critic

He was lauded as a hero during the grim days of the 1994 Rwandan genocide, credited with saving the lives of more than 1,200 people he sheltered at his hotel, but when he mysteriously reappeared back in his home country late last year, he was in handcuffs. Now Paul Rusesabagina, who angered the Rwandan government with his pointed criticism from exile in the years after the blood bath, is about to go on trial in a prosecution that has drawn broad international condemnation.

Paul Rusesabagina, who gained fame after his actions were portrayed in the Oscar-nominated movie “Hotel Rwanda,” is charged with terrorism-related offenses.

In August, the 66-year-old former hotelier who lived in Belgium and the United States, was paraded before the press in shackles in the Rwandan capital, Kigali, with no explanation from the authorities as to how he had come to be there.

The trial, which is to begin on Wednesday, is being handled by the High Court Chamber for International Crimes and will be held in the trial chamber of the Supreme Court in Kigali.

Mr. Rusesabagina has been a staunch critic of President Paul Kagame for years, and his family, his lawyers and critics of the government all say he has no chance at a fair trial.

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In 1994, Mr. Rusesabagina, who had trained in hospitality in Kenya and Switzerland, was the manager of the luxurious Hôtel des Mille Collines in Kigali when Rwanda found itself consumed by bloodletting that killed as many as a million people.

But some had the good fortune to find shelter at the hotel, where Mr. Rusesabagina used alcohol and cash to deter their would-be killers. He is credited with saving 1,268 ethnic Tutsis and Hutus, and his story became the basis of the 2004 movie “Hotel Rwanda.” Mr. Rusesabagina also recounted it in his 2006 autobiography, “An Ordinary Man.”

Lauded globally for his courage, Mr. Rusesabagina received numerous humanitarian and civil rights awards, including a Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005 from President George W. Bush.

As his profile rose, Paul Rusesabagina used his new platform to roundly criticize the repressive policies of Mr. Kagame, Rwanda’s leader. After his home in Belgium — where he was a citizen — was broken into a few times and documents stolen, Mr. Rusesabagina moved his family to a gated community in San Antonio, Texas, where he believed they would all be safe.

But on the afternoon of Aug. 31, the Rwandan authorities presented him masked and handcuffed.

Mr. Rusesabagina had last communicated with his family from the airport in Dubai, where he had arrived on an Emirates flight from Chicago. He then boarded a private jet that he thought was going to Burundi, where he planned to speak to churches at the invitation of a local pastor.

Instead, the plane, operated by the Greece-based Charter firm GainJet, landed in Kigali early the morning of Aug. 28, where he was promptly arrested and bound for three days. Mr. Kagame, speaking on national television, called the operation “flawless” and denied that Mr. Rusesabagina had been abducted, as his family said.

In December, Mr. Rusesabagina and his family sued the airline. “Through this lawsuit we will be able to get some answers,” Carine Kanimba, one of Mr. Rusesabagina’s daughters, said in a telephone interview

According to the indictment issued by the Rwandan authorities, Mr. Rusesabagina is accused of nine offenses, among them murder, armed robbery and being a member of a terrorist organization.

The charges center on Mr. Rusesabagina’s leadership in the Rwanda Movement for Democratic Change, an opposition coalition in exile whose armed wing, the National Liberation Front, Rwandan authorities have accused of carrying out attacks along Rwanda’s southern border with Burundi in 2018.

The authorities have zeroed in on a 2018 video in which Mr. Rusesabagina said that all “political means have been tried and failed” in Rwanda and that it was time to “use any means possible to bring about change.”

Mr. Rusesabagina is jointly charged with 17 other defendants, including Callixte Nsabimana, also known as Sankara, a former spokesman of the National Liberation Front who is accused of orchestrating attacks in Rwanda’s southern borders.

Mr. Rusesabagina asked the court to release him on bail, citing poor health, but his request was rejected. The prosecution described him as a flight risk.

Mr. Rusesabagina’s lead counsel, Kate Gibson, said the proceeding should not even start given the many “fair trial violations.” Because of his Belgian citizenship and the circumstances of his arrest, she said, Rwanda “does not have jurisdiction to adjudicate this case, and should dismiss the charges and permanently stay the proceedings,” she said in an email.

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Ms. Gibson is one of three of Mr. Rusesabagina’s international lawyers who have not been allowed into Kigali to represent him.

Mr. Rusesabagina is in solitary confinement in Mageragere Prison in Kigali, according to his lawyers. He has access to electricity a few hours a day and is allowed to stand outside for an hour daily depending on the weather. He is also allowed a five-minute call to his family once a week.

Mr. Rusesabagina, who has high blood pressure, has repeatedly said in recent months that he is afraid he will die from a stroke. Medications the family sent through the Belgian Embassy in Kigali never reached him, they said. And with Covid-19 outbreaks reported in the prison, his family is worried he will contract the virus.

The prison authorities have repeatedly confiscated confidential legal documents, Ms. Gibson said. And with no case file or indictment documents and no way to speak with his lawyers privately, Mr. Rusesabagina is not able to prepare for his own case, she said.

“This is a violation of his right to communicate in a privileged manner with his lawyer,” she said. “It is a violation of his right to adequate time and resources to prepare his defense. He is completely hamstrung.”

Source: New York Times.

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Two Catholic priests Kidnapped In Edo

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Two Catholic priests Kidnapped In Edo

The abduction of two Catholic priests, Rev. Father Udo of St, Patrick Catholic church Uromi and Rev. Father Philemon Oboh of St. Joseph Retreat Center Ugboha, was confirmed on Sunday by Edo State Police Command.

The priests were abducted along the Benin-Auchi Road on their way back to Uromi in Esan South-East Local Government Area of the state.

In a statement on Sunday, the Police Public Relations Officer of the state, SP Chidi Nwabuzor, confirmed the abduction of the reverend fathers.

The statement read: “This is to confirm the kidnap of two Catholic Rev. Fathers; Rev. Fr. Udo Peter of St. Patrick Catholic Church Uromi and Rev. Fr. Philemon Oboh of St. Joseph Retreat Center, Ugboha in Esan South East LGA of Edo State.

READ ALSO: Kukah’s Diocese Under Attack, Two Priests, Worshippers Kidnapped

“The Edo State Police Command was informed of the incident by the Divisional Police Officer, Ugboha, Edo State, that on Sunday, July 3, 2022, one Rev. Father Amos Abhulimen of St. Dominic Catholic Church Ugboha, reported that he was informed by the Catholic authority via WhatsApp that the above-named Catholic Rev. Fathers were attacked, kidnapped and taken to unknown place by some kidnappers along Benin-Auchi Expressway between Ehor and Iruekpen Communities.

“Immediately, the Commissioner Of Police, CP Abutu Yaro, dispatched policemen to the area to carry out aggressive and well coordinated manhunt in arresting the kidnappers as well as rescue the Rev. Fathers unhurt,” the statement added.

A Catholic priest popularly known as Rev. Father Christopher Odia was Kidnapped last Sunday at Ikabigbo Community, Etsako West LGA and was later found dead after few hours in the bush.

 

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Court Jails APC Senator Seven Years For Fraud

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Court Jails APC Senator Seven Years For Fraud

The Senator representing Delta North Senatorial District at the National Assembly, Peter Nwaoboshi of the All Progressives Congress (APC) , has been sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment.

The Court of Appeal in Lagos on Friday also ordered that the senator’s two companies, Golden Touch Construction Project Ltd and Suiming Electrical Ltd, be wound up in line with the provisions of Section 22 of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act 2021.

The court’s ruling was delivered in an appeal challenging the judgment of Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke of the Federal High Court which on June 18, 2021, discharged and acquitted the defendants on two counts of fraud and money laundering. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) which arraigned him however challenged the lower court’s decision.

EFCC had arraigned the three defendants over the acquisition of a property named Guinea House, Marine Road, in Apapa, Lagos, for N805 million.

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Part of the money paid to the vendor – N322 million transferred by Suiming Electrical Ltd on behalf of Nwaoboshi and Golden Touch Construction Project Ltd – was alleged to be part of proceeds of fraud.

Earlier in his judgment, Justice Aneke said the evidence of the prosecutor “proved that the third defendant obtained a loan of N1.2 billion from Zenith Bank to purchase additional equipment and as provision of working capital”.

“It also proved that the loan of N1.2 billion together with interest of N24 million was properly granted to the third defendant .Nothing else was proved by the complainant or prosecutor in this case,” the EFCC quoted the judge as saying in a statement.

The high court judge was also quoted as claiming that a fatal blow was dealt to the case of the prosecution by its failure to call officials of Sterling Bank “to testify and probably tender exhibits F and F10. Consequently, he discharged and acquitted the defendants”.

However, ruling on the EFCC’s appeal on Friday, the Court of Appeal held that the trial judge erred in dismissing the charges against the respondents.

“The court said the prosecution had proved the ingredients of the offence and consequently found the defendants guilty as charged,” EFCC said.

 

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Drama In Court As Lawyer Appears In Priestly Attire

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VIDEO: Drama As Lawyer In Priestly Attire Appears In Court

By John Michael Ojo
There was a mild drama today at the Okpoko Magistrate Court in the Ogbaru Local Government Area of Anambra State, as a lawyer simply identified as Ogbachalu Goshen appeared before the court in a pastoral robe.

But Ogbachalu who was standing before the magistrate, CB Mbaegbu, was denied  hearing on the ground that he was not properly attired, leading to a minor incident in the court.

READ ALSO: Female Students Can Wear Hijab To Lagos Schools – Supreme Court

However,  citing a recent Supreme Court’s judgment which supported the wearing of hijab by female students in public schools as a reference point, Ogbachalu reminded the court that it was his right to dress in his priestly attire as he was an ordained pastor and that the objection by the court to hear him, was an infringement on his fundamental human right as enshrined in section 38 of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria

The magistrate however disagreed his submission which only forced the court to dismiss.

 

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