His arrest was announced on 31st August 2020, forty five days after Rusesabagina appeared in discussions with allies of his political party dubbed Rwanda Movement for Democratic Change (MRCD) to give details on the rationale behind its creation.
Rusesabagina, 67, was paraded before the media, two days after he was arrested in Rwanda where he arrived tricked by his friend Bishop Constantin Niyomwungere who had lied to him that they were heading to Burundi to engage with different church leaders as they boarded a private jet.
Rusesabagina had last seen Rwanda in 2004 prior to his arrest.
As he was paraded before the media, Rwanda Investigation Bureau (RIB) explained that Rusesabagina faced different charges including terrorism.
He was arrested following enough evidences proving his implication in the creation of National Liberation Front (FLN) rebel group; including details disclosed during discussions with allies before his arrest. Appearing in court, he also admitted to have sponsored the armed group with contribution worth Euro 20,000.
During interrogation at RIB, the man had revealed that he was not sure of the exact amount contributed but admitted to have provided approximately Euro 300,000 to support the rebel group which plotted attacks that claimed lives of innocent civilians and destroyed several properties in Southern Province.
His direct involvement in the activities of FLN is no brainer considering gathered evidences made public and the talk he delivered on 16th July 2020, forty five days before finding himself behind bars.
At the time, Rusesabagina gave deeper explanations on the creation of MRCD.
The discussion which lasted for two hours and 38 seconds was attended by MRCD members. Its footages were later uploaded on the party’s YouTube channel by one, Espérance Mukashema who headed Radio Ubumwe sponsored by Paul Rusesabagina.
Apearing in court, Rusesabagina himself admitted to have paid Mukashema. The woman, who passed on, used to receive US$300 per month.
Following his arrest, the video was deleted from the MRCD YouTube channel in what seemed to tamper with evidences.
An extract of the video that lasts for four minutes and 50 seconds shows Rusesabagina replying to Faustin Twagiramungu who also owns a political party dubbed ‘RDI Rwanda Rwiza’ on the foundation of FLN and its objectives.
“We created MRCD in November 2016. It was a coalition of two political parties including CNRD-Ubwiyunge and PDR-Ihumure. At the time, CNRD was led by Wilson Irategeka and and PDR-Ihumure led by me. After long negotiations, we set five pillars under one platform,” he said.
“The first pillar is what is being carried out by our soldiers. The second was diplomacy, the third was mobilization, the fourth was communication and the fifth was finance,” added Rusesabagina.
In his explanations, Rusesabagina used the word ‘Isambu’ translated as arable land, a figurative word with which the context was well known among his supporters.
During interrogations, Rusesabagina explained that they used figurative language to talk about their activities where the word ‘abahinzi’ (farmers) was used in place of fighters, ‘amasuka’ (hoes) was used to mean guns, utubuyenge (pebbles) to mean bullets while the word ‘umurima’ or ‘isambu’(arable land) was used to mean battleground.
After forming the coalition of PDR Ihumure, CNRD-Ubwiyunge and establishing their philosophies, the two political parties sought more support.
“We worked together and, in the end of 2017, our brothers from Rwanda Revolutionary Movement (RRM) led by Callixte Nsabimana wanted to join us to become a platform bringing together three parties,” said Rusesabagina.
“After long discussions, RRM was accepted in March 2018, and we were successful in our executions. That is when we started asking ourselves the name we will give our soldiers. Since May 2018, our boys were named FLN and that is why FLN does not belong to PDR, CNRD or RRM, it is under MRCD. We called them FLN because RRM brought its soldiers as well which meant we had to get an inclusive name,” added Rusesabagina.
He explained that the coalition birthed MRCD/FLN because soldiers belonged to the three parties until they allowed RDI Rwanda Rwiza formed by Faustin Twagiramungu on 18th June 2019, to join the platform.
At the time, the rebel group had started attempts to threaten Rwanda’s security plotting different attacks.
Rusesabagina was brought to the High Court Chamber for International Crimes along with 20 co-accused MRCD/FLN combatants.
The suspects faced charges including the formation of an irregular armed group, membership of a terrorist group, financing terrorism, murder as an act of terrorism, arson as an act of terrorism, attempted murder as an act of terrorism, and assault and battery as an act of terrorism.
The crimes were committed since 2018 when MRDC/FLN combatants plotted attacks to Rwanda which claimed lives of nine innocent residents in the Southern Province.
They left many others gravely injured, and caused significant material and economic damage in South-West Rwanda.
The court handed 25-year sentence to Rusesabagina and 20-year jail term to Callixte Nsabimana alias Sankara, the former spokesperson for the terror group after they were found guilty of terrorism charges.