Category Archives: East-Central Africa – Republic Of Rwanda

Rwandan genocide fugitive suspect, Felicien to be transferred to ‘The Hague’

Advertisements

The UN tribunal, a successor to the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda international war crimes tribunals, has courtrooms both in The Hague and in the Tanzanian city.

An international tribunal prosecuting alleged Rwandan genocide financier Felicien Kabuga on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity said Wednesday he was to be temporarily transferred to The Hague for a medical assessment.

The order comes after Kabuga’s lawyers asked that he be transferred to the Dutch city instead of Arusha in Tanzania, saying long-haul air travel would pose a health risk to the 85-year-old businessman because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I hereby amend the arrest warrant and order of transfer,” Arusha-based judge Iain Bonomy said, ordering the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals “to modify Kabuga’s conditions of detention to allow for his detention there.”

Advertisements

Judge Bonomy cited “exceptional circumstances” in making the order, adding that it would be in the “interest of justice to order that Kabuga be transferred temporarily to… the Hague Branch for a detailed medical assessment.”

Kabuga, arrested near Paris in May after 25 years on the run, is being sought over his alleged role in the 1994 Rwanda genocide by Hutu extremists of some 800,000 minority Tutsis as well as moderate Hutus.

Once one of Rwanda’s richest men, Kabuga is accused of having helped create the Interahamwe Hutu militia group and the Radio-Television Libre des Mille Collines, whose broadcasts incited people to murder, and of helping to buy machetes in 1993 that were distributed to genocidal groups.

His lawyers initially asked that he be put on trial in France, but late last month the country’s top court ruled that he could be transferred to the UN tribunal.

Advertisements

“In view of recent developments, there has been a significant shift in the nature and degree of information related to the risks associated with transferring Kabuga to Arusha on a long-haul flight,” judge Bonomy said on Wednesday.

The judge however wrote that it was too early to speculate “whether and under what circumstances he may be safely transferred to the Arusha branch of the Mechanism for trial.”

“This is best left, in the first instance, to the sound discretion of the Registry’s medical staff,” the order said.

Kabuga’s lawyer Emmanuel Altit told AFP the decision to move his client to The Hague was an “important step in a complex process,” but added he was “very satisfied” with the judge’s decision.


#Newsworthy…

Production of medical cannabis strictly for exports – Rwanda speaks.

Advertisements

Arrests for cannabis use are made on an almost daily basis in Rwanda, and doctors are forbidden from prescribing it as medicine.

Rwanda has approved the production of medical cannabis strictly for export, seeking to target fast-growing markets in the United States and European Union, even though its use remains illegal at home.

Guidelines for the production and export of medical cannabis were approved by the cabinet on Monday, and a government statement said Wednesday that it would not change strict local laws around marijuana consumption.

“Rwanda will begin to receive applications for licenses from interested investors for this high-value therapeutic crop. This investment framework does not affect the legal status of cannabis consumption in Rwanda, which remains prohibited,” the statement said.

Advertisements

The Rwanda Development Board said several companies have tendered bids to begin mass production, as the tiny East African nation seeks a slice of the multi-billion-dollar medical cannabis market.

“We have interested investors that we are going to work with for the next few days now that we have guidelines in place to see how Rwanda can contribute to medicinal research in the world. US, Canada and the EU are big markets that we are seeing buying products,” the board’s CEO Clare Akamanzi told the state-run Rwanda Broadcasting Agency.

Authorities have yet to give details on when the production will begin, or where the cannabis farms will be located in the country, in which agriculture is the main employer.

Akamanzi said that anyone licenced to grow cannabis will be “required to have a very strong security program that has to be approved by our security organs”.

Advertisements

“There will be strong measures including CCTV cameras, watchtowers, street lights and human security. This will ensure that the crop does not leave the farm to go to the local market,” she said.

“We are absolutely not going to allow any other use for the crop –- even recreational use –- other than medicinal research.”

Use of the narcotic can be punished with a jail term of two years, while those selling it can face up to 20 years in prison or even life imprisonment in “severe cases”, according to the country’s penal code.

“I fully support the government’s position to produce cannabis for medicinal purposes. But I believe it should be fully legalised,” Frank Habineza, leader of the opposition Green Party, told AFP.


#Newsworthy…

[Rwanda] Paul Kagame denies abduction of Paul Rusesabagina

Advertisements

President says detained government critic ‘led himself’ to Rwanda, accuses him of of being a ‘terrorist’ leader.

Rwandan President Paul Kagame denies that a detained opposition figure who inspired the Hollywood film Hotel Rwanda was kidnapped in order to be brought back to the country, saying he was responsible for his own arrest.

Paul Rusesabagina is credited for saving 1,200 lives during the country’s 1994 genocide by letting people shelter in the hotel he was managing during the mass killings.

The outspoken government critic is now accused of supporting rebel violence in Rwanda. His family and supporters say they have not been able to speak to him and that he has not had access to a lawyer nearly a week after he was paraded in front of the media in Rwanda’s capital, Kigali, in handcuffs.

Appearing on national television on Sunday, Kagame did not explain how Rusesabagina – who had lived outside Rwanda since 1996 and is a citizen of Belgium and has a US permanent residence permit – was brought back.

Advertisements

The 66-year-old’s family has said they believe he was “kidnapped” during a visit to Dubai and that he would never knowingly have boarded a plane to Kigali.

But Kagame suggested that Rusesabagina came of his own accord.

“What if someone told you that he brought himself – even if he may not have intended it? You will be surprised how he got here. He was not kidnapped or hoodwinked. His coming to Rwanda has more to do with himself than anybody else,” Kagame said.

The president suggested that Rusesabagina was told a story that fit into his expectations and ended up in Rwanda. “There was no kidnap in the process of bringing Rusesabagina here. It was actually flawless!” said Kagame. “When the time comes, he will tell the story himself but he led himself here.”

The Hotel Rwanda Rusesabagina Foundation said Rusesabagina has had no consular visits, and it rejected the Rwandan government’s statement that it had talked to his sons about a potential visit as “not true”.

Advertisements

“Paul’s wife has called the jail and has not been allowed to talk to him,” it said on Saturday.

The Rwandan government has said it issued an arrest warrant for Rusesabagina to answer charges of serious crimes including “terrorism”, arson, kidnap, and murder perpetrated against unarmed civilians. Police called him the suspected “founder, leader, sponsor and member of violent, armed, extremist terror outfits including the Rwanda Movement for Democratic Change” (MRCD).

The MRCD has an armed wing, the National Liberation Front, that has been accused of attacks in 2018 and 2019. Rwanda arrested NLF spokesman Callixte Nsabimana last year.

“Rusesabagina heads a group of terrorists that have killed Rwandans. He will have to pay for these crimes,” Kagame said on Sunday. “Rusesabagina has the blood of Rwandans on his hands.”

Advertisements

Rusesabagina in the past has denied the charges that he financially supports Rwandan rebels, saying he is being targeted for criticising the Kagame government over human rights abuses.

Rwandan authorities have not publicly shared any international arrest warrant. They have referred to “international cooperation” but given no details.

Rusesabagina was paraded last week in front of media in handcuffs at the Kigali headquarters of the Rwanda Investigation Bureau [Clement Uwiringiyimana/Reuters]

No trial date set
Rusesabagina’s detention has prompted concern among human rights activists that this was the latest example of the Rwandan government targeting critics beyond its borders.

Rusesabagina has received several international honours, including the US Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005, for helping to save lives during Rwanda’s genocide, in which some 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed.

Advertisements

The US government has said it expects the Rwandan government to provide “humane treatment, adhere to the rule of law and provide a fair and transparent legal process” for Rusesabagina.

It is not clear when Rusesabagina will appear in court. Rwandan law says a suspect can be in provisional detention for 15 days, renewable for up to 90 days.

Kagame said Rusesabagina’s trial will be held openly and conducted fairly.

“We are obligated to do this,” he said. “We want to do things in a right way.”


#Newsworthy…

Terrorism: Rwandan hero, Paul Rusesabagina arrested

Advertisements

A Hero in Handcuffs
Paul Rusesabagina, in handcuffs before the Rwandan press in Kigali capital on Monday. The official police statement, “Through international cooperation, the Rwanda Bureau of Investigation wants to inform the general public that Paul Rusesabagina has been arrested.”

A hero held under suspicions of terrorism
The internationally honoured hero, portrayed in the film “Hotel Rwanda” as the saviour of almost 2000 people in 1994 during the country’s ethnocentric genocide ordeal, is under suspicions of founding and financially backing terrorist outfits behind heinous crimes against humanity on Rwandan soil.

“Rusesabagina is suspected to be the founder, leader, sponsor and member of violent, armed, extremist terror outfits including the Rwanda Movement for Democratic Change (MRCD) operating out of various places in the region and abroad,” police said.

Accusations of Terroism
The police also informed that there was an international arrest warrant for Rusesabagina to answer to these accusations of serious crimes including terrorism, arson, kidnap and murder, perpetrated against unarmed, innocent Rwandan civilians. The officers did not, however, reveal where exactly Rusesabagina — who had been living outside Rwanda since 1996 in Belgium and then in Texas, United States, was apprehended.

Advertisements

Rusesabagina — a vehement critic of the Rwandan government and an opponent to President Paul Kagame, is yet to be officially charged in court and has previously denied these government allegations that he financially supports Rwandan rebels.

Further Investigation
Police told the media in Kigali that further investigations against Rusesabagina are underway and more information will be released about his alleged activities.

The 2004 film “Hotel Rwanda” showed Rusesabagina, a Hutu married to a Tutsi, as using his influence as a manager of the Hotel des Mille Collines, to allow more than 1,200 Tutsis to take shelter in the establishment’s hotel rooms. In the film, Rusesabagina was portrayed by actor Don Cheadle.

Paul Rusesabagina has won numerous international honours including the United States Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005.


• Happy New Month From Noble Reporters Media •



#Newsworthy…