Questions arise over relevance of Rusesabagina’s testimony in Munyemana’s trial

By Esther Muhozi
On 8 December 2023 at 01:58

A video of Paul Rusesabagina’s testimony presented during the trial of Dr. Munyemana Sosthene in Belgium’s Court of Assize on December 7, 2023, triggered mixed reactions.

The testimony was part of the case initiated by Dr. Munyemana’s defense lawyer, who had invited Rusesabagina as a witness.

Rusesabagina, was introduced by Dr. Munyemana’s defence lawyer, Ms. Florence Bourg. She requested to present the video of Rusesabagina’s statements on July 1, 2023, after his release, as he was not physically present in court.

Ms. Bourg said that Rusesabagina is associated with the heroic past where he allegedly rescue people during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi as he managed Hotel des Milles Collines, emphasizing the acknowledgment of his actions in the movie "Hotel Rwanda."

She pointed out that Rusesabagina formed a political party in 1996, leading to his exile in Belgium. In 2020, he boarded a plane bound for Burundi but ended up in Kigali, leading to his imprisonment and subsequent 25-year sentence for nine crimes related to terrorism.

He served three years before being released through a presidential prerogative of mercy.

The videos presented in court carried messages from Rusesabagina after his release, expressing gratitude to the United States, his family, and those involved in securing his release. The plaintiff’s side immediately contested the relevance of these videos to Genocide against the Tutsi in Tumba and the role of Munyemana.

Lawyer Gisagara Richard questioned the testimony’s relevance, citing Rusesabagina’s alleged support for terrorists and his association with the FDLR. Gisagara also raised concerns about Rusesabagina’s reported involvement in aiding those responsible for the genocide.

On the scheduled day for Rusesabagina’s testimony, Dr. Munyemana’s lawyer informed the court that he would not be available, proposing the court listen to his videos instead.

Paul Rusesabagina spent three years in prison before being released through a presidential prerogative of mercy.