MINIJUST clarifies on Rusesabagina Aljazeera recording

On 27 February 2021 at 10:10

The Ministry of Justice (MINIJUST) has provided clarifications on some of issues raised in an interview with the Minister of Justice and State Attorney General, Johnston Busingye broadcast by Aljazeera English that featured the minister’s private talks with a group of advisors discussing how Rusesabagina was arrested and how the prison saw a letter from Rusesabagina’s daughter detailing plans to facilitate her father to escape.

The Qatar based television, Al Jazeera yesterday aired 24-minute story about Rusesabagina’s trial.

The talk show dubbed ’Up Front’ of the television, shows that Minister Busingye was invited twice for an interview with a journalist hailing from America, Marc Lamont Hill, 42, who is also a lecturer at Temple University in Philadelphia.

In the first part of the interview, the journalist asked different questions related to how Rusesabagina arrived in Rwanda where the Minister replied that Rusesabagina arrived in Kigali willingly and arrested.

Minister Busingye declined to provide much detail noting that his case is handled in court where everything will be made clear.

The first part of the interview lasts 12 minutes. In the second part, the journalist played a video featuring statements made during Minister Busingye’s interactions with his advisors where he emphasized that there are laws allowing prisons to have access to activities taking place inside including rights to see letters sent to prisons.

During interactions with advisors, he explained that the prison saw a letter detailing plans to facilitate Rusesabagina to escape sent by his daughter.

The Minister revealed that the prison saw the letter and returned it to Rusesabagina.

Recorded private discussions also show Busingye and advisors discussing about the jet which brought Rusesabagina to Kigali and what to explain in the interview.

When the journalist asked who paid the jet, Busingye replied that Rwanda provided payments to the person who brought Rusesabagina to Kigali without violating any laws.

He highlighted that the Government only facilitated the man who brought Rusesabagina to Rwanda.

Marc Lamont Hill yesterday wrote via his Twitter handle that staff of the Ministry accidentally sent the video to Aljazeera.

Moments before my Up Front interview with Rwanda’s Minister of Justice, his team accidentally sent us a video of them discussing and preparing for our interview. On that video, they made statements that clearly contradicted their public statements’.

MINIJUST provides clarifications

The statement released on Friday 26th February 2021 by the Ministry of Justice (MINIJUST) shows that private discussions with Minister Busingye and his advisors seen on Aljazeera don’t reflect the policy of Rwanda Government.

“The Ministry of justice wished to clarify some of the issues raised in an interview with the Minister of Justice broadcast by Aljazeera English on 26th February 2021, and which was based in part on private recording that doesn’t reflect government policy,” reads the statement in part.

“The Minister confirmed that the Government of Rwanda facilitated the journey that led to Paul Rusesabagina’s arrest in Kigali in August 2020, a fact that has been in public domain since September 2020. The Government’s position, which it has argued in court, is that this arrest was legal and proper, and at no time were Mr Rusesabagina’s rights violated,” adds the statement.

The statement also reads that, the Minister confirmed that the privacy of defense communications between lawyers and clients, including those in provisional detention is protected under Rwandan law.

Among others, the Minister highlighted that all other materials entering a prison, including non-privileged correspondence, is subject to routine safety checks by the Rwanda Correctional Service, according to established rules that RCS is mandated to implement.

“When the Minister became aware of a possible violation in December 2020, he immediately instructed that the relevant documents be returned to Mr. Rusesabagina and that RCS take greater care to distinguish privileged from non-privileged documentation,” reads the statement.

The statement further reads that the ‘Minister did not address this matter directly in an interview with Aljazeera knowing that a legal challenge by Mr. Rusesabagina’s defense lawyers on this point was likely, a challenge which was in fact raised in court on 26th February’.

The Ministry also revealed that ‘additional corrective action may be taken by the Ministry of Justice based on the court’s findings’.

Pastor Niyomwungere, 44, is a Burundian with Belgian and Rwandan nationality who brought Rusesabagina to Rwanda.

In mid February 2021, he told Jeune Afrique (through a virtual interview) how Rusesabagina arrived in Kigali.

“He asked me to escort him in Burundi. I never invited him. He wanted to meet with FLN leaders in Burundi and Burundian leaders as well. He wanted me to escort and link him with these leaders,” he said.

Niyomwungere explained that Rwanda Investigation Bureau helped him to plan how Rusesabagina will be arrested in Rwanda.

“My intention was to bring him to Rwanda secretly. I asked him to book a private jet and cheated him that Burundian leaders have agreed to cater for payments. He accepted,” he revealed.

Rusesabagina arrived in Dubai on 27th August 2020 from Dallas in Chicago. Pastor Niyomwungere had arrived earlier and welcomed Rusesabagina to Ibis Hotel.

After having rest, Rusesabagina and Niyomwungere went to Dubai airport where they took a private jet ‘Challenger 605’ belonging to GainJet Airline which brought them to Kigali.

Paul Rusesabagina was arrested last year in August.