Rusesabagina reveals was headed to Bujumbura but landed in Kigali

By Elina Jonas Ruzindaza
On 19 September 2020 at 11:09

Paul Rusesabagina, a Rwandan dissident under arrest and in custody of police facing a number of charges including terrorism, has revealed that he was surprised to see himself in Rwanda yet he was going to Burundi for discussion with various religious and other groups.

Rusesabagina told the media on August 31, 2020, that he was arrested at Kigali International Airport and that he arrived in Rwanda willingly.

His arrest sparked controversy around the world, with some claiming he had been abducted, others saying the plane was hijacked and found in Kigali. There were also reports that on August 27, 2020, Rusesabagina arrived in Dubai at 7:10 p.m.

Reports indicate that he left Al Maktoum Airport in Dubai on a private jet of the Bombardier Challenger 605 of GainJet late in the night and arrived in Kigali on Friday morning.

In an exclusive interview with the New York Times, the 66-year-old said he took the plane thinking he was going to Burundi. He made the remarks on Thursday at the Remera Police Station where he was being held, along with his two lawyers, Mr. Nyambo Emeline and Mr. Rugaza David. It was a conversation he said he gave willingly and no one forced him to.

The conversation took place in Rusesabagina’s room where he is held from, where it was reported that it was clean, with a bed covered with mosquito nets. The suspect was wearing a trouser, a jacket, shoes, and a gold watch.

Rusesabagina told reporters about his arrival in Rwanda from Dubai airport.

He said that the private plane he boarded in was meant to take him to Burundi in Bujumbura where he had plans to engage with various religious groups at the invitation of the local pastors.

He arrived at the airport on August 29. Instead of finding himself in Burundi, he found himself surrounded by Rwandan soldiers, it’s when he realized he is not in Burundi but in a neighboring country, Rwanda, where he had last been 16 years ago. He says this surprised him.

Asked how he felt after he found himself in Rwanda, Rusesabagina replied, "Ask yourself how you would feel if you found yourself in the wrong place."

President Kagame had recently announced that there was no kidnapping in the process of bringing Rusesabagina but he had willingly brought himself to Rwanda.
Rusesabagina was recently arraigned in court on suspicion of 13 counts and Thursday, the Kicukiro Local Court ruled that he should be remanded in custody for 30 days while the investigation continues, the decision was immediately appealed.

He told the New York Times he was innocent of all the charges against him. On the first day of his trial, he told the court that he regretted the FLN’s actions in killing civilians in the Northern Territories and apologized to those individuals affected and the country as a whole.

A few days ago, his family announced that they do not agree with the lawyers selected by the 66-year-old, and so they (family) appointed seven lawyers including one Rwandan.

Rusesabagina said he was the one who chose his lawyers and he is happy to work
with them. “I’m the one who selected my lawyers and I’m happy to have them. Only my family was not notified. ”

He said that although he is imprisoned, he has a high blood pressure problem, but the Rwandan authorities always send him doctors to take care of him.

“A lot of people come and talk to me. They also clean my room. They give me food. They are good people. Everything is fine so far. ”

In this interview, he did not explain what happened in Dubai and how he found himself in Kigali but he only said that all that happened when he was tired.

“I was taken to a place. I don’t remember where. I was tired, legs, face, I couldn’t see anything. I didn’t know where I was. ”