CHICAGO – Mar. 15, 2021
It is difficult to imagine criminal proceedings that are further removed from a legitimate process of impartial justice, than those against Paul Rusesabagina in Rwanda.
Kidnapped and drugged by an agent of the Rwandan government and brought to a country to which he would never voluntarily return, Paul was “arrested” in the absence of a warrant as required under Rwandan law, held in incommunicado detention, and then signed incriminating statements after having been tied at the face, legs and hands for three days, and interrogated in the absence of a lawyer. Paul has been held in solitary confinement for six months in Mageragere Prison. President Kagame has publicly pronounced that Paul is guilty of the charges, effectively obliterating his right to be presumed innocent. The Rwandan prison authorities have withheld his Paul’s prescription medication since 17 September, leading to daily recurrent health problems and significant weight loss. Paul has been deprived of lawyers of his own choosing, with his international lawyers being denied access to him and the court, contrary to past practice. All legal documents, including those marked “privileged and confidential” containing defence strategy have been systematically confiscated, never returned, and read at the highest levels of government. Paul has no access to the 5000+ pages of documents in his case file, meaning he cannot prepare his defence. Paul is being tried together with 19 other accused, all of whom have pled guilty and incriminated him, in proceedings in which he is given no prior notice of which witnesses will enter the courtroom and when.
The judges then ordered that the first witness begin. This is also in violation of standard Rwandan court practice, in which the detailed charges against the accused are read out loud in court before the proceedings begin, a process that can often take many days …