Hotel Rwanda Figure Paul Rusesabagina’s Trial ‘Seriously Flawed’ Says TrialWatch Report

By Yannick Izabayo

April 4, 2022

The trial of ‘Hotel Rwanda’ figure Paul Rusesabagina “was seriously flawed” and “violated international and regional standards for fair trial procedures,” a TrialWatch report said today. In September 2021 Mr. Rusesabagina was found guilty of forming and funding a group that the prosecution alleged had carried out deadly attacks in Rwanda and was sentenced to 25 years in prison. Today, an appeal court will consider the prosecution’s request to extend his sentence to life in prison, even as Mr. Rusesabagina’s health continues to deteriorate.

“This proceeding smacked of a show trial – the Court fully accepted, and promoted, the government’s case against Paul Rusesabagina, without question or challenge. The verdict of guilty of serious crimes cannot, in consequence, be regarded as beyond reasonable doubt,” said Geoffrey Robertson QC, the Clooney Foundation for Justice’s TrialWatch expert on the case, giving the trial an overall grade of “D”.  CFJ’s partner the American Bar Association Center for Human Rights monitored this trial as part of TrialWatch.

Mr. Rusesabagina became a household name for his actions to save lives during the Rwandan genocide, which later became the subject of the Oscar-nominated film, ‘Hotel Rwanda.’

There was a global outcry when Mr. Rusesabagina vanished and reappeared in Rwanda in August 2020, facing a range of terrorism charges—initially without a lawyer. The criminal proceedings that followed were likewise plagued by violations and irregularities. His conviction was based in part on an alleged confession after Mr. Rusesabagina was held incommunicado and without a lawyer. Since the trial’s conclusion, the European Parliament has adopted a resolution condemning the proceedings and calling for Mr. Rusesabagina’s release, and members of the U.S. Congress introduced a resolution urging that he be released.

This report is the third in a series of TrialWatch reports on the case against Mr. Rusesabagina. The first highlighted Mr. Rusesabagina’s lack of access to counsel before trial. The second, authored by Geoffrey Robertson QC and staff at the ABA Center for Human Rights, found numerous violations of Mr. Rusesabagina’s rights before and during the trial. The final TrialWatch report released today concludes that under international and regional standards “the judgment convicting Mr. Rusesabagina should not be relied upon and did not meet the necessary guarantees of fairness.”

“This report is not concerned with Paul Rusesabagina’s guilt or innocence, but whether his trial was fair,” said Mr. Robertson, QC. “The judges properly found that he had been deprived of the facilities necessary to prepare his defense but did not offer him an effective remedy. They did not explore his allegations of mistreatment when arrested, nor after his withdrawal did they probe the motives or the government connections of hostile witnesses. Even before his withdrawal they refused to allow a crucial and controversial witness—a bishop no less—to give sworn testimony or test his statement. These and other defects, detailed in the report, demonstrate that these procedural improprieties, added to the failure to analyse critically the prosecution case, make the conviction questionable.”

TrialWatch’s final report on the case highlights the Court’s unjustified dismissal of concerns about the reliability of pre-trial statements. Specifically, the Court’s judgment relies extensively on statements allegedly made by Mr. Rusesabagina during or immediately following a period when he told the court he was being detained incommunicado, was being denied access to counsel, and was being subjected to mistreatment—in his words being “tied at the legs, face and hands.”  Several of Mr. Rusesabagina’s co-defendants gave similar accounts.

One defendant said he had given a statement “because they could torture me under the pretext that I was hiding information.” Another said that he had been tied up as he was interrogated by several people, and that he did not sign documents prepared by the Investigation Bureau because he could not read or write but was told to mark the document with a fingerprint. At trial the Court ignored these issues, despite being obliged under international and regional human rights standards to examine whether incriminating statements were coerced. In Mr. Rusesabagina’s case the Court stated that he had waived his right to counsel, without addressing the key allegations mentioned above.

Statements made by Mr. Rusesabagina and his co-defendants were key to his conviction since the prosecution only presented two witnesses against Mr. Rusesabagina. Neither of these witnesses spoke about charges in the case but instead testified to alleged earlier links to armed groups.

The Court also did not adequately investigate one of the key questions in the case—the relationship between the political coalition with which Mr. Rusesabagina was affiliated called the Mouvement Rwandais pour la Changement Démocratique (“MRCD”) and the armed group that the prosecution alleged carried out the attacks at issue in the case, namely the Front de Libération Nationale (“FLN”).  Drawing a link between Mr. Rusesabagina’s role in the political organization and the armed group was integral to the prosecution’s case, and yet the judgment showed “complete acceptance of the prosecution case.”  Furthermore, the Court mischaracterized testimony from one of Mr. Rusesabagina’s co-defendants who said that “Rusesabagina says he is not among the founders of FLN.” The judgement instead concluded the co-defendant had testified that Mr. Rusesabagina “is one of the founders of the MRCD coalition and its armed wing FLN.”

For these reasons, the report reiterates that the proceedings were “more public spectacle than judicial undertaking.”


Background:

Mr. Rusesabagina disappeared from Dubai on August 27, 2020. On August 31, 2020, the Rwanda Investigation Bureau announced that Mr. Rusesabagina was in its custody. Upon his arrival in Rwanda, Mr. Rusesabagina was first detained incommunicado and later without access to a lawyer of his choice. In early March 2021, the defense submitted an affidavit from Mr. Rusesabagina to the Court saying that he had been held at an “unknown location” and “tied at the legs, face and hands” upon his arrival in Rwanda.

Mr. Rusesabagina was charged with (1) forming an illegal armed group; (2) being a member of a terrorist group; (3) supporting a terrorist group; and (4) specific crimes as acts of terrorism.  The judges visited the prison and decided that Mr. Rusesabagina was not being allowed the time and facilities necessary to prepare his defense, but then they denied his request for further time. As a result, on March 12, 2021, Mr. Rusesabagina withdrew from the proceedings.

The trial lasted from February 17, 2021 until mid-July 2021. On September 20, 2021, the Court convicted Mr. Rusesabagina and sentenced him to twenty-five years in prison.

The final TrialWatch report, released today, analyzes the trial as a whole, as well as the judgment convicting Mr. Rusesabagina. It finds that the proceedings violated Mr. Rusesabagina’s right not to be compelled to testify against himself, his right to counsel, his right to a reasoned judgment, and his right to an independent and impartial tribunal.

It also stresses the findings in an earlier – June 2021 TrialWatch report on the case – that concluded that the Rwandan authorities’ violation of Mr. Rusesabagina’s right to confidential communication with legal counsel, his right to adequate facilities to prepare for trial, and his right to the presumption of innocence “may have irretrievably prejudiced the defense.” That report found that “the fairness of the proceedings appears to have been compromised such as to call into question any verdict convicting Mr. Rusesabagina.”

Violations of Mr. Rusesabagina’s right to confidential communication with his lawyers also took place against the backdrop of allegations that his family was subject to ‘Pegasus’ surveillance by the Rwandan authorities. Following the conclusion of the trial, Mr. Robertson found “This was a show trial, rather than a fair judicial inquiry.”

source: This statement can be attributed to the Clooney Foundation for Justice. For further inquiries, please contact media@cfj.org.

About the Clooney Foundation for Justice’s Trialwatch Initiative

For a full analysis, see here.

TrialWatch is an initiative of the Clooney Foundation for Justice. Its mission is to expose injustice, help to free those unjustly detained and promote the rule of law around the world. TrialWatch monitors criminal trials globally against those who are most vulnerable — including journalists, protesters, women, LGBTQ+ persons and minorities — and advocates for the rights of the unfairly convicted. Over time, TrialWatch will use the data it gathers to publish a Global Justice Ranking exposing countries’ performance and use it to support advocacy for systemic change.

58 thoughts on “Hotel Rwanda Figure Paul Rusesabagina’s Trial ‘Seriously Flawed’ Says TrialWatch Report

  1. Pingback: Savage shotguns
  2. Pingback: howa schusswaffen
  3. Hi there, i read your blog from time to time and i own a similar one and i was just wondering if you get a lot of spam responses?
    If so how do you stop it, any plugin or anything you can advise?
    I get so much lately it’s driving me crazy so
    any support is very much appreciated.

  4. I truly love your blog.. Great colors & theme. Did you build this site yourself?

    Please reply back as I’m hoping to create my own blog and would
    love to learn where you got this from or exactly what the theme is
    named. Appreciate it!

  5. Fantastic website. A lot of helpful information here.
    I am sending it to a few buddies ans also sharing in delicious.
    And certainly, thanks in your effort!

  6. Howdy just wanted to give you a quick heads up.
    The words in your article seem to be running off the screen in Opera.
    I’m not sure if this is a formatting issue or something to do
    with browser compatibility but I figured I’d post to let you know.
    The layout look great though! Hope you get the problem solved soon.
    Kudos

  7. It is perfect time to make some plans for the future and it is time to be happy.
    I’ve read this post and if I could I wish to suggest you some interesting things
    or suggestions. Maybe you can write next articles
    referring to this article. I desire to read even more things about it!

  8. I was wondering if you ever thought of changing
    the structure of your site? Its very well written; I love what youve got to say.
    But maybe you could a little more in the way of content so people could connect with it better.

    Youve got an awful lot of text for only having 1 or 2 images.
    Maybe you could space it out better?

  9. Excellent post. I used to be checking continuously this blog and I’m inspired!
    Extremely helpful info particularly the remaining phase 🙂
    I care for such information a lot. I was looking for this
    certain information for a long time. Thank you and good luck.

  10. Do you mind if I quote a couple of your posts as long as I provide credit and
    sources back to your weblog? My blog site is in the exact same
    area of interest as yours and my visitors would certainly benefit from some of the information you present
    here. Please let me know if this ok with you. Thanks!

    Have a look at my web-site … meilleur casino en ligne,
    Lewis,

  11. Hello would you mind stating which blog platform you’re working with?

    I’m looking to start my own blog in the near future but I’m having a hard time selecting between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution and Drupal.
    The reason I ask is because your design seems different then most blogs and I’m looking for
    something completely unique. P.S Sorry
    for being off-topic but I had to ask!

    Also visit my webpage :: casino en ligne fiable, azuresunrise.com,

  12. I don’t even know how I ended up right here, however I
    thought this submit was good. I don’t understand who you’re however certainly you are going to
    a famous blogger should you are not already.
    Cheers!

    Feel free to visit my blog post casino en ligne fiable (Liam)

  13. Does your blog have a contact page? I’m having trouble locating it but, I’d like to shoot
    you an email. I’ve got some recommendations for
    your blog you might be interested in hearing. Either way, great site and I look forward to seeing it
    expand over time.

    My site; meilleur casino en ligne; jael.info,

  14. What’s up, all is going well here and ofcourse every one
    is sharing facts, that’s truly excellent, keep up writing.

    my web blog … meilleur casino en ligne (Mike)

  15. Thank you for every other great article. The place else may anyone get that type of
    info in such an ideal method of writing? I have
    a presentation next week, and I’m at the search for such information.

    Feel free to visit my page; meilleur casino en ligne – Oma

  16. Hello my loved one! I want to say that this article is amazing, nice written and include approximately all significant infos.
    I would like to peer extra posts like this .

    My page meilleur casino en ligne, Roger,

  17. I think this is among the most vital info for me.
    And i’m glad reading your article. But wanna remark on few general things, The web site style is wonderful, the articles is
    really great : D. Good job, cheers

    Feel free to surf to my blog: meilleur casino en ligne; Broderick,

  18. Hi there very nice website!! Guy .. Beautiful ..
    Wonderful .. I will bookmark your site and take the feeds additionally?
    I’m glad to seek out numerous helpful info here within the put up, we
    want work out extra strategies in this regard, thanks for sharing.
    . . . . .

    My homepage: casino en ligne francais (Floyd)

  19. Howdy! This is kind of off topic but I need some guidance
    from an established blog. Is it tough to set up
    your own blog? I’m not very techincal but I can figure things out pretty quick.

    I’m thinking about setting up my own but I’m not sure where to begin. Do you
    have any points or suggestions? Thank you

    Also visit my web-site: casino en ligne francais (http://sosoo.kr/)

  20. Hey! I know this is kinda off topic however I’d figured I’d ask.
    Would you be interested in exchanging links or maybe guest authoring a blog article or vice-versa?
    My site addresses a lot of the same topics as yours
    and I think we could greatly benefit from each other. If you are interested feel free to
    shoot me an email. I look forward to hearing from you!
    Great blog by the way!

    Look into my web blog; casino en ligne fiable (Anna)

  21. I know this if off topic but I’m looking into starting my
    own blog and was wondering what all is needed to get setup?

    I’m assuming having a blog like yours would cost a pretty penny?
    I’m not very internet savvy so I’m not 100% sure. Any suggestions or advice would be
    greatly appreciated. Kudos

    Here is my website – casino en ligne francais (Zack)

  22. I am really impressed along with your writing skills and
    also with the layout for your blog. Is that this a paid subject or did you customize it yourself?
    Either way keep up the excellent high quality writing, it is rare to look a great blog like this one these days..

    My page :: casino en ligne (Ken)

  23. Please let me know if you’re looking for a article
    author for your weblog. You have some really good articles and I think I
    would be a good asset. If you ever want to take some of
    the load off, I’d really like to write some material for your blog in exchange for a link back to mine.
    Please shoot me an e-mail if interested. Many thanks!

    My web page casino en ligne francais (Haley)

  24. Hey there! I just wish to give you a big thumbs up for the excellent info
    you’ve got here on this post. I’ll be coming back
    to your web site for more soon.

    My blog; casino en ligne francais (Raleigh)

  25. Have you ever considered publishing an e-book
    or guest authoring on other sites? I have a blog based on the same ideas you discuss and would love to have you share some stories/information. I know my viewers would value your work.
    If you are even remotely interested, feel free to shoot
    me an email.

    Feel free to surf to my website meilleur casino en ligne (Modesto)

  26. Hi there! Someone in my Myspace group shared this site
    with us so I came to look it over. I’m definitely loving
    the information. I’m bookmarking and will be tweeting this to my followers!
    Fantastic blog and amazing style and design.

    Feel free to surf to my web page :: Casino En ligne (anyl4psd.org)

  27. Pingback: buy cocaine

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *