By Nasra Bishumba
President Paul Kagame has said that the courts of law will rely on facts to deliver justice to both terror suspects Paul Rusesabagina and victims of his alleged crimes.
He said this on Monday, December 21 during a press conference shortly after delivering the State of the Nation address as mandated by the constitution.
Rusesabagina was paraded to the media on August 31 and later charged with 13 counts including creation and being part of an irregular armed group, financing terrorism, terror activities for political gains, conspiracy to commit terror activities, commanding terror acts and being part of a terrorist group.
Responding to a question regarding calls for the release of Rusesabagina, Kagame said that although the issue was clear and easy to understand since the facts around this case are clear, the letters and calls for the release were not unexpected.
One such letter was written by US Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney, on December 14 and addressed to President Kagame requesting for the immediate release and repatriation of Rusesabagina.
Digging into the issue, Kagame said that it is understandable for some people not to comprehend when one of their own is involved in the wrong even if what they have done is clear, true and there are no questions about it.
Kagame said that he did not expect people who have seen Rusesabagina, interacted with him and gone to church with him and think that they know him as a person to accept the crimes that he is accused of.
However, he said that the role of the law is to sort out these difficulties in favour of justice and what is right.
“We will pursue this to ensure that justice is done but justice is broad. It will not be done in favour of Rusesabagina only but also those aggrieved because of the loss of their family members’ lives. They too want to see justice served,” he said.
Kagame said that the victims are well aware of Rusesabagina’s connection to the attacks in the Southern province districts of Nyaruguru and Nyamagabe among others which happened at the hands of an organisation that he was part of and was even a leader of.
“I am talking facts, not sentiments. I suspect that those who write these letters either don’t have the facts, are ignoring the facts or think that the facts don’t matter and that this person is more important than the lives that were lost or their families,” he said.
He said that the rule of law will lead the way and will be applied in favour of justice.
“We are steadfast on whichever way justice leads us and we will see the results and I really hope that those who are raising their voices wrongly will benefit from what we are saying,” he said.
On December 17, the Government, through the Justice Minister Johnston Busingye responded to Congresswoman Maloney’s letter saying that the country’s justice system is independent reminding that Rusesabagina’s arrest was based on key facts that are not only in the public domain but that have not been disputed.
Busingye added that Rusesabagina has never shied away from his intentions where he used social media platforms like YouTube to spread his terror gospel.
As president of MRCD-Ubumwe and its armed wing, FLN, Busingye said that Rusesabagina posted a video in December 2018 pledging his full support and openly calling for war on Rwanda.
In the video, Rusesabagina says “the time has come for us to use any means possible to bring about change.”
“According to NPPA, shortly after that, MRCD/FLN led and claimed responsibility for several terror attacks in Nyamagabe and Nyaruguru and Nyungwe forest, Southern Rwanda killing nine people leaving many others wounded,” Busingye wrote.
Meanwhile, in October, the prosecution announced that it would merge Rusesabagina’s case with that of 16 suspects, all former fighters for FLN, to have a joint trial.
Making the announcement, Prosecutor General Aimable Havugimana said that they will also request the court to merge at the substantive phase, with that of the two former publicists to the outfit whose case is already ongoing.
The duo is Callixte Nsabimana and Herman Nsengimana who are already on trial at the High Court Chamber for International and Cross Border Crimes located in Nyanza District.