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'I am a hostage,' says 'Hotel Rwanda' hero as terrorism trial begins in Kigali

February 18, 2021. Summarized by summa-bot.

Compression ratio: 49%. 1 min read.

Paul Rusesabagina, who inspired the movie "Hotel Rwanda," appeared in court in Kigali on Wednesday along with 20 others accused of conspiring to launch attacks on Rwandan territory in 2018 and 2019, resulting in at least nine deaths.

(CNN)Paul Rusesabagina, who inspired the movie "Hotel Rwanda," appeared in court in Kigali on Wednesday along with 20 others accused of conspiring to launch attacks on Rwandan territory in 2018 and 2019, resulting in at least nine deaths.

During the trial — which was heard by Rwanda's High Court Chamber for International and Cross-Border Crimes — the outspoken critic of Rwandan president Paul Kagame told the court that he wished to be referred to as a Belgian citizen kidnapped by the Rwandan authorities, who have no jurisdiction to try him.

I am here simply as a hostage," Rusesabagina said, adding that he renounced his Rwandan citizenship in 1996 when he fled Rwanda to Belgium.

I immediately ceased to be Rwandan but instead became what you would call an orphan under the care of the United Nations," Rusesabagina continued, urging the court to order for his repatriation back to Belgium to face trial there.

Rwandan authorities have denied Rusesabagina's allegations of kidnapping, while prosecutors have maintained that the defendant remains Rwandan by origin and should be tried in Rwanda on grounds that the crimes he is accused of were committed in Rwanda against Rwandans, thus giving their courts jurisdiction over him.

Rusesabagina gained prominence for saving hundreds of Rwandans during the country's genocide by sheltering them in the hotel he managed.

Rusesabagina and his supporters have long maintained that he became a target of Rwandan President Paul Kagame's government after sustained criticism of the government and the conduct of the Rwandan Patriotic Front in ending the genocide in 1994.

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