Quit Or Rot In Jail Like Your Client: Kagame Deports Belgian Lawyer Representing Gov’t Critic Rusesabagina

Quit Or Rot In Jail Like Your Client: Kagame Deports Belgian Lawyer Representing Gov’t Critic Rusesabagina

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By Spy Uganda Correspondent

Kigali: Paul Rusesabagina, the “Hotel Rwanda” hero turned government critic, was denied access to the Kigali prison where his client is being held pending the verdict of his trial for terrorism and deported to Belgium.

According to Rwandan authorities, Vincent Lurquin was deported and declared persona non grata for violating immigration laws.

The Rwanda Bar Association raised a complaint because Lurquin was not accredited to practice in Rwanda.

He claims he has not been able to see his client for the past year.

“I have not seen my client, that is the whole problem. They refuse to let me see my client, I went to see the President of the Bar who did not want to see me, I went to see the Attorney General who did not want to see me, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of Justice. But in Belgium, the Minister of Foreign Affairs contacted his counterpart. The Federal Prosecutor’s Office has also done so and they don’t want to answer us, they don’t want me to see him,” Vincent said.

Authorities said that Vincent came through a visitation visa and was not allowed to work in Rwanda with the said document.

A Rwandan court will deliver next month its delayed verdict in the terrorism trial of Paul Rusesabagina, the judiciary announced on Friday.

Initially, a decision in the highly watched case against the 67-year-old Rusesabagina had been due on Friday but it was delayed without any reason given.

The Rwandan judiciary said on Twitter that the court would now announce its verdict against Rusesabagina and his 20 co-accused on September 20 at 11 am.

Prosecutors have sought a life sentence for Rusesabagina, the former hotelier credited with saving hundreds of lives during the 1994 genocide, and whose bravery inspired the Hollywood film “Hotel Rwanda”.

The government of President Paul Kagame accuses him of supporting the National Liberation Front (FLN), a rebel group blamed for attacks inside Rwanda in 2018 and 2019 that killed nine people.

Rusesabagina has denied any involvement in the attacks but was a founder of the Rwandan Movement for Democratic Change (MRCD), an opposition group of which the FLN is seen as the armed wing.

His family and supporters insist that the charges against him are fabricated and have campaigned globally for his release.

Rusesabagina, who used his celebrity following the 2004 film to denounce Kagame as a dictator, was arrested in August 2020 when a plane he believed was bound for Burundi landed instead in Kigali.

The trial opened in February, but Rusesabagina, a Belgian citizen and US green card holder, has boycotted proceedings since March, accusing the court of “unfairness and a lack of independence”.

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