CHICAGO – June 17 – Today the Rwandan prosecutors requested that the court sentence Paul Rusesabagina to life in prison for the alleged crimes brought against him during his trial over the past three and a half months. They reread the list of nine alleged crimes and suggested sentences ranging from 10 years to life in prison.
There are many problems with the trial that have been pointed out by various legal and human rights groups over the past months, but one issue stands out above all others:
The Rwandan government has presented no evidence whatsoever that Paul Rusesabagina, or any of his co-accused, were involved in the three attacks that the FLN is accused of committing. No evidence was presented during the trial linking any of the co-accused to the crimes. No witnesses were called to say that they could identify the co-accused. No witnesses identified anyone involved with the attacks. Several witnesses did say that they were victims, but their testimony was limited to describing their injuries and noting in some cases that people they didn’t know, in partial military uniforms, had attacked them.
At one point the prosecutors mentioned a file they received from the Belgian government which they claim provides evidence against Paul. This file was not presented into evidence or read in court. It is a part of the file in this case, however, and after reading the file Rusesabagina’s legal team confirms that there is nothing in the file that links Paul to this case. There are questions in Belgium as to whether the file was legally transferred, but more importantly there is simply no evidence in the file.
What the prosecutors did in this case was attempt — and fail — to link the MRCD and FLN together, so that they can say that Paul Rusesabagina, the former President of the MRCD, was responsible for the alleged crimes of the FLN.
What the prosecutors forgot to do was to prove that ANY crimes were committed, and they presented no evidence at all linking these crimes to the FLN.
The only people who have “testified” that Paul Rusesabagina or his co-accused committed these alleged attacks are the prosecutors in their opening and closing statements. This is “justice” in Rwanda: prosecutors read the charges against you. Prosecutors assume the charges are true without presenting evidence. Prosecutors suggest a sentence based on these charges and the court presents a sentence.
There have been enormous legal irregularities in the trial of Paul Rusesabagina. Paul’s human rights have been violated at every turn, from his kidnapping and torture to the conditions of his confinement and inability to defend himself. And now with the prosecution wrapping up his case, it is clear that the Rwandan prosecutors didn’t even present any evidence that crimes were committed. They tried to link Paul to the FLN, an alleged terrorist group, but forgot to link the FLN to the terrorist acts that they claim occurred!
This trial has been a farce from beginning to end. Paul Rusesabagina was kidnapped and is on trial because he is a critic of Rwandan President Paul Kagame. Any questions of a legal case or a trial are an impolite fiction – a show put on by the Rwandan government to silence a critic and chill future dissent.
There was no evidence presented that Paul Rusesabagina had contributed in any way to any funding of terrorism. There were no receipts, no bank records, no treasury reports from either Belgium or the United States where Rusesabagina had bank accounts. There was no money trail presented and no funding of terrorism shown.
Paul Rusesabagina saved the lives of 1,268 people during the 1994 Rwandan genocide. He worked day and night reaching out to the international community to try to get them to intervene and stop the killing. Since the genocide, he has encouraged the international community to come together around an internationally sanctioned Truth and Reconciliation process to create a dialogue among all Rwandas in Rwanda and in the Daispora in order to create a sustainable peace for the Great Lakes Region of Africa. Rusesabagina speaks worldwide about creating peace in region, stopping human rights violations and to teach people about the horrors of the genocide so that Never Again can mean Never Again.
Paul Kagame is a tyrant who is responsible for the killing of more than 6 million people in the DRC and surrounding area. He has been re-elected by margins of more than 95% that can only be achieved by manipulating the vote. He has imprisoned everyone that has run against him for President. He has killed many who he felt no longer obeyed him including the former Head of Intelligence and his close friend Patrick Karegaya. Peace activists, human rights advocates, journalists who speak out about the problems in Rwanda end up detained, disappeared, or dead.
One of these Paul’s from Rwanda should be in jail for crimes against humanity, but it is Paul Kagame, not Paul Rusesabagina.