Brussels Press Club, April 20, 2022 – The #FreeRusesabagina team held a briefing on April 20 at the Brussels Press Club. The assembled reporters heard from Vincent Lurquin, on of the Rusesabagina lawyers who made news by sharing the invoice (attached) which shows that the Office of the President of Rwanda paid for the plane that kidnapped Paul Rusesabagina.
Click HERE for a video of press conference.
Remarks from Paul’s daughter Carine Kanimba and attorney Vincent Lurquin are below.
Carine Kanimba’s Remarks at the Brussels Press Club (4/20/2022)
My father Paul Rusesabagina is a Belgian citizen and American legal permanent resident. The story of his use of the power of words to save the lives of 1,268 Tutsis and moderate Hutus under his care at the Milles Colline Hotel in Kigali, Rwanda during the Rwandan Genocide was told in movie Hotel Rwanda and in his book An Ordinary Man.
Both the movie and the book were thoroughly fact checked by the research and business professionals involved with the movie Hotel Rwanda, the editors and publishers of his book An Ordinary Man and by the top levels of the United States government and White House officials before he received the United States Presidential Medal of Freedom. Nevertheless, the Rwandan government has published at least two books and several articles trying to discredit Paul’s story.
Since the release of the movie, the Rwandan government has been telling lies about Rusesabagina. In 2007, the Rwandan Ambassador to the United States accused Paul Rusesabagina and two American Ambassadors of meeting in South Africa to smuggle weapons. Neither the Ambassadors nor Rusesabagina were in South Africa nor acquainted with one another at the time described by the Rwandan Ambassador.
In 2010 through approximately 2012, the Paul Kagame and Rwandan government accused Paul Rusesabagina of working with the FDLR, who Rwanda called terrorists, and tried to get the United States and Belgian to investigate Rusesabagina and to help them extradite and prosecute him. Both countries declined and Rwanda kept pushing their falsehoods about Rusesabagina in the media. The false claims were all proven to be as baseless in 2010 and 2011 as they had been in 2007.
But the Rwandans have not stopped their habit of frivolous and false attacks on Rusesabagina. In late August, 2020, Paul Rusesabagina, was flown against his will from Dubai, United Arab Emirates to Kigali, Rwanda. He was tortured upon arrival in Rwanda and held for hundreds of in solitary confinement. One of his torturers was Johnston Busingye, who has recently been accepted as the Rwandan High Commissioner to the United Kingdom.
The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UNWGAD), an arm of the UN’s Human Rights Council, recently released an advanced version of its opinion on Rwanda’s kidnapping and detention of my father. UNWGAD found that the deprivation of liberty of Paul Rusesabagina amounts to arbitrary and enforced detention, which is illegal under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The Working Group requested that the government of Rwanda take all necessary steps to remedy the situation.
According to the opinion, given the circumstances of the case the appropriate remedy under international law is for Rwanda to immediately “take urgent action to ensure the immediate unconditional release of Mr. Rusesabagina.” In addition, UNWGAD members found that Rwanda should “accord him an enforceable right to compensation and other reparations.”
Paul Rusesabagina’s trial revolved around the question of whether he was a leader of the “MRCD/FLN,” a group that the Rwandan government alleges committed acts of terrorism. While Paul was found guilty on 8 of the 9 charges and sentenced to 25 years in prison, those who watched the trial saw that no credible evidence was presented on these charges. In any system that follows the rule of law, this case would have been thrown out of court or he would have been found innocent of all charges.
The prosecutors presented no evidence that the attacks even happened other than the false, coerced testimonies of Paul and his co-accused. Paul announced in court that his testimony was false and that he was forced to sign it after being tortured and held incommunicado for his first four days in Rwanda, yet this testimony was used multiple times in the judgement in violation of both Rwandan and international law. Other co-defendants had similar stories, noting coercion, with at least one defendant signing a document he was not allowed to read, and another illiterate defendant told to make his mark but not what was in the document.
The TrialWatch initiative of the Clooney Foundation for Justice produced a final report on the case of Paul Rusesabagina in Rwanda. The results leave no doubt that this was a Show Trial, and the report reiterates that the proceedings were “more public spectacle than judicial undertaking.”
The United States Congress, the EU parliament, the Belgium parliament, the Italian parliament, and the Balearic Islands have all passed resolutions of support for Rusesabagina and asked for his immediate release.
Last week we received more support requesting Rusesabagina’s immediate release during a panel discussion with the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, the Lantos Foundation, Freedom House, actor Don Cheadle who portrayed Rusesabagina in the movie Hotel Rwanda and Terry George, the director of Hotel Rwanda.
The latest development with regard to Rwanda is that the United Kingdom last week put forth a plan to send refugees and asylum seekers seeking safe haven in the UK, which may explain why the UK accepted the papers of torturer Johnston Busingye as High Commissioner.
And today you will hear from Maitre Vincent Lurquin about legal developments and see the video about the t-shirt campaign from human rights activists from Hollywood and worldwide.
Vincent Lurquin Remarks at Press Conference for Paul Rusesabagina (4/20/2022)
Thank you, really thank you, for being here. Because, really, today, we need your help. the news of Paul Rusesabagina, from his cell in Nyarugenge, is bad.
Because the news received from Paul Rusesabagina, from his cell very bad, too bad… His lawyers alerted us: he was a victim of a stroke. Within the hour, he should have been hospitalized. The reality is that he has not received any care for months. This cruel sentence, during our last interview at the Foreign Affairs office: “Our embassy has been looking for a Rwandan doctor or an NGO. After the problems you experienced during your expulsion, no one wants to take the risk of intervening in this case. You can imagine… “
We need your help because we know you are not afraid of words. Death lurks around his cell and he is alone. In Nyarugenge, I went there. He was there, beyond that path, beyond that hill, a few hundred meters away. And yet, I did not see him, I was the one who was arrested, expelled, as were the rights of the defense throughout this masquerade of a trial. We cannot continue to listen without acting to this mute cry of a man who tears at our conscience, who reminds us of his innocence, who calls for his freedom. To do nothing would be to become accomplices. I really thank Mrs. Van Hoof for having made this rather exceptional gesture of refusing this complicity by accepting to take part in this press conference.
We need you because we need to make it known that we now have the proof, which cannot be ignored, that Paul Rusesabagina was abducted by the President of the Rwandan Republic. It is still enormous to have this proof of the abduction of a Belgian citizen when he has not even been granted the right to meet with his lawyers, to have more than five minutes per week to talk to his family, to consult a doctor, all these basic rights of every detainee. This is a serious violation of all international standards. It is a slap in the face to our Belgian democracy…
The proof is given to us by the RIB hearings of the Pastor who is the co-author of the kidnapping. Official hearings, irrefutable proof. This proof is also given to us by the Rwandan Minister of Justice during a television broadcast on Al Jaazera, journalists and viewers are witnesses.
The Belgian investigating judge in charge of the kidnapping investigation found this evidence during a rogatory commission in Athens, headquarters of the aviation company Gain Jet Aviation, through an invoice that will become one of the key elements of this case. This invoice is not the original copy. But it is attached to a court report. There is therefore no doubt about its authenticity. An invoice like any other, except that it resulted in the sentencing of an innocent man to 25 years in prison.
Its sender, an aviation company: Gain Jet Aviation. Its object: a flight in a private jet. The flight plan: August 19: Athens-Dubai; August 27: Dubai-Kigali; August 28: Kigali-Athens.
Nothing extraordinary except the recipient of this invoice: Lieutenant Colonel Innocent Gashuti OG Finances and Administration. Office of the Presidency. Kigali. In short, the Presidency of the Republic of Rwanda. The amount of the invoice: $120,100 US dollars.
This invoice is the inescapable proof that it is indeed Paul Kagame who prepared, paid, and organized the kidnapping of a Belgian citizen, Paul Rusesabagina. This was more than 20 months ago. You can imagine that this abduction obviously contaminates the entire trial, which is only known as a trial by the Rwandan authorities.
The rest you know: Paul Rusesabagina was tortured, he could not choose his lawyers, he could not participate in what Amnesty International, Human Rights, the Belgian House of Representatives, the European Parliament, the American Congress, the UN Human Rights Council, the international and national associations of lawyers, the moral and judicial authorities all over the world have never considered as a trial Mrs. Wilmes, our Minister of Foreign Affairs, is right when she says, in the name of the Belgian government, that this trial is neither fair nor equitable because of the violation of the basic rights of the defense.
Today, what we are asking is that Paul Rusesabagina be freed, urgently, it is his right, the application of the law that all those who took a stand for him are claiming. It is a legal cause, it is a political cause, it is an ethical cause as all those artists who have risen to say who this man is who stood up against the genocide in 1994, who saved so many humanities to oppose the genocidal madness. Today, this should have a special meaning.
Talk with the family, with his wife, with his daughters and sons who for months have moved mountains to convince. Today, we are afraid of being too cowardly to tell all these heart amputees who have opened their hands too much that they must be released, that they must free their husbands, their fathers because the law, because justice demands it, because if we wait any moment, it may be too late.
Thank you for being here. We ask you to relay this cry, which is no longer silent but composed of all the words of all those people who have intervened around the world: free Paul Rusesabagina. Free him and try him. This is what the Rwandan authorities asked of the Belgian state when they requested that an investigation be conducted against him.
Proceed with his transfer. Paul Rusesabagina wants to be tried so that he can say he is innocent of all the charges against him. It is not every day that someone asks to be tried. But he wants to be judged by a justice and not by men who take orders. He knows that if justice is rendered, he will be cleared because he is simply on the side of humanity. And he has proved it.
Vincent Lurquin, Lawyer for Paul Rusesabagina.
Amy Zelvin Reid, firstname.lastname@example.org