Hotel Rwanda hero says he was kidnapped before arrest

Paul Rusesabagina, who was arrested in August, said he was blindfolded and had his legs tied up.

Paul Rusesabagina, portrayed as a hero in a Hollywood movie about Rwanda's 1994 genocide, is escorted in handcuffs from a courtroom in Kigali, Rwanda [File: Clement Uwiringiyimana/Reuters]

Paul Rusesabagina, who was depicted as a hero in the film Hotel Rwanda but is now on trial on “terrorism” and other charges in the central African country, said he had been kidnapped from abroad before being arrested and charged.

Rusesabagina, a political dissident who has lived in exile in Belgium and the United States, was arrested in August after returning to the country.

At the time it was not immediately clear whether he had returned voluntarily or had been coerced.

“I was kidnapped to come here,” Rusesabagina said in court in the capital, Kigali, on Friday as he applied for bail.

“They tied my legs and my arms and I was blindfolded.”

Prosecutors denied he had been kidnapped and said due process had been followed.

“No one kidnapped Paul Rusesabagina … he was detained at a legally recognised place after being notified of charges against him,” prosecutor Jean Cabin Habimana said.

The Oscar-nominated 2004 film Hotel Rwanda depicted Rusesabagina, played by Don Cheadle, using his connections as a hotel manager to protect ethnic Tutsis fleeing slaughter by Hutus in the country’s 1994 genocide.

Rusesabagina is credited for saving 1,200 lives by letting people shelter in the hotel he was managing during the mass killings. An estimated 800,000 people were killed.

He has received several international honours, including the US Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005. Rusesabagina later acquired Belgian citizenship and became a US resident.

He became a vocal critic of President Paul Kagame and once called for armed resistance to the government in a YouTube video.

In court, his lawyer, Gatera Gashabana, said Rusesabagina had been held incommunicado and his rights violated.

Rusesabagina has already been denied bail twice.

The judge said he would deliver his ruling on the most recent application on December 2.

Source: News Agencies