He made the disclosure during a fireside chat with Semafor news outlet in Washington DC, in the United States (US) on 14th December 2022.
President Kagame responded to questions on different issues including the arrest of Paul Rusesabagina who was handed 25 years over terrorism charges related to attacks plotted in Southern and Northern provinces.
Reacting to US request to release the man, Kagame said that the case of Rusesabagina is very clear where it was handled by the courts of law with due process and evidences proving him guilty.
He explained that Rusesabagina was accused along with 20 other individuals who were also convicted on the basis of the same facts and evidences presented before the court.
“The other 20 are not complained because some of them admitted what they were involved in and with Rusesabagina as even at one time their leader. Now, with this situation, somebody comes and says this person is famous, a celebrity, and he is a resident of the United States. So, by that you have got to release this person,” he said.
“Some of us have raised this question and said, we let this one go free, how about the other 20 who have been in the same crime with him and have actually pointed to him as even having been their leader?” wondered Kagame.
In this context, the Head of State said the case is serious but seems to be nullified because there is somebody in the US is saying so.
“Some people may find that normal but I don’t. Rwandans don’t,” he noted.
When asked whether the advocacy of US State Secretary is helpful to Rusesabagina’s case, Kagame said: “I think from what I said, you can conclude because we have made it clear. There isn’t anybody going to come from anywhere to bully us into something to do with our lives.”
On 20th September 2021, the High Court Special Chamber for International and Cross-border crimes convicted the former President of MRCD-FLN terrorist group, Paul Rusesabagina of terrorism charges and handed him 25-year jail term.
He had been arrested in August 2020 while his trial began on 20th January 2021.
Rusesabagina and co-accused individuals 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.
On Thursday 11th August 2022, President Kagame received the United States (US) Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken. The US request to release Rusesabagina was among topics of discussions between the two leaders.
Speaking to the media after their discussions in August, Rwanda’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Vincent Biruta said that Rusesabagina was tried and convicted along with 20 other accomplices, under both Rwandan and international laws, for serious crimes against Rwandans.
He revealed that it is unusual for Rwanda to be influenced by pressure and insisted that the country’s stand on the case of Rusesabagina is clear.
“For us, the trial has definitively ended. He was convicted and sentenced like other criminals jailed for different cases handled before courts. This is where we stand,” he said at the time.
On whether Rwanda won’t change its position on the issue and release Rusesabagina over pressure, Minister Biruta explained that the country will abide by laws and stick to the court’s decision where Rusesabagina has to serve his sentence.