'Rwanda Hotel' champion on trial for terrorism: 'fair trial is unlikely'

‘Rwanda Hotel’ champion on trial for terrorism: ‘fair trial is unlikely’

The trial of the opposition leader is a major event in Rwanda. “All sessions are broadcast live on YouTube,” says Flemish journalist Stijn Vercruysse, who tracks the VRT case. Although the process has been fairly fair according to him so far, Vercruysse has reservations. “Rwanda is a country where dissent is silenced and where people are afraid to say anything against the government. Are you allowed to doubt Rusapjina’s guilt? Are witnesses speaking?”

Rusapagina’s daughter Karen Kanimba, who also lives in Belgium, is convinced that the trial is unfair. And she says it really starts with the way her father ended up in Rwanda. “There was no international arrest warrant. He was already kidnapped,” he added.

And because Rusapjina did not come to Rwanda in years, the Rwandan government established him. He was asked to travel to Burundi via Dubai to deliver a lecture on genocide. But it turns out that the man who called on Rusapagina to do so was an agent of the Rwandan government. Instead of heading to Burundi, the plane headed to Rwanda, where Rosapagina was arrested on the spot.

Kanimba said there are other ways in which the trial is unfair. “My father is not allowed to contact his international lawyers. He can only contact a Rwandan lawyer because they know they can intimidate them.” Resabagina is also unable to prepare for trial, as his daughter says, “They confiscate all the confidential documents he needs for this purpose.” In opposition to the course of events, Rosapagina decided last week not to appear in court anymore.

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Help from Belgium

But whether or not Ruspagina is in court, the trial against him continues. This is why his daughter continues to work with her father. You have sent an email to members of the US Congress, the European, British and Belgian Parliament. She is appealing to anyone she believes could contribute to her father’s expulsion from Rwanda.

The country that you think can do more than that is Belgium. As a Belgian citizen, Rosapagina receives consular assistance in Kigali, but that is not enough, Kanemba says. It is backed by Belgian Member of Parliament Els Van Hole, who wants to use a resolution to urge the Belgian government to do more. “I am not talking of guilt or innocence. I am talking of justice and justice,” Van Hall says. “At the moment, Paul Rosapagina is being treated unfairly in Rwanda.”

Van Hall wants the Belgian government to try to persuade Rosapagina to end his trial in Belgium. She does not know whether it is realistic for Rwanda to leave him. “In any case, it calls for negotiations that must be initiated by the government.”

There is little chance that it will succeed, as his daughter Karen Kanimba knows. Yet she pinned all her hopes on her. “My father is not safe in Rwanda. Only here will he get a fair trial.”

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