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President Kagame says Hotel Rwanda hero wasn’t kidnapped

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Isaac Kaledzi
Isaac Kaledzi
Isaac Kaledzi is an experienced and award winning journalist from Ghana. He has worked for several media brands both in Ghana and on the International scene. Isaac Kaledzi is currently serving as an African Correspondent for DW.

Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame has denied claims by family of Paul Rusesabagina, the man who inspired a Hollywood film about the 1994 genocide that he was kidnapped.

Kagame said Rusesabagina returned to Rwanda out of his own accord even before he was arrested for murder and terrorism.

Last week Rusesabagina’s family claimed that he was kidnapped in Dubai and taken to Rwanda.

President Kagame said on national TV that “Let me eliminate the word ‘kidnap’ because that was not the case.”

“Rusesabagina will attest to that himself. There was no kidnap, there was no any wrongdoing in the process of his getting here.”

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“He got here on the basis of what he believed he wanted to do and he found himself here,” the Rwandan President said.

Last week two police officers brought the 66-year-old to a press conference at the headquarters of the Rwanda Investigations Bureau, parading him in-front of the media.

“Rusesabagina is suspected of being a founder or a leader or sponsor or member of violent armed extremist terror outfits … operating out of various places in the region and abroad,” the bureau’s spokesman, Thierry Murangira, told journalists.

Murangira said Rusesabagina would face several charges including “terrorism, financing terrorism … arson, kidnap and murder.”

Rusesabagina is a critic of President Paul Kagame and moved abroad after the genocide, winning worldwide acclaim including receiving the United States’ highest civilian award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, in 2005.

He was played by Don Cheadle in the Oscar-nominated film ‘Hotel Rwanda’ which told the story of how he used his job as a hotel manager and his connections with the Hutu elite to protect Tutsis fleeing the slaughter.

Actor Don Cheadle (L) and Paul Rusesabagina arrive at the "Hotel Rwanda" Premiere during the 55th annual Berlinale International Film Festival on February 11, 2005 in Berlin, Germany.
Don Cheadle (L) played Mr Rusesabagina (R) in the film. Photo: Getty Images

Rusesabagina has drawn criticism from some genocide survivors and Kagame who accused him of exploiting the genocide for commercial gain.

He has denied exaggerating his role in rescuing Tutsis and has not publicly responded to the charges of supporting armed groups.

About 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were butchered in 100 days in the central African nation from April 6, 1994.

Soldiers of the then Hutu-led government and ethnic militia allies orchestrated the genocide in which victims were hacked to death with machetes, burned alive or shot.

The killings ended when Tutsi rebels, led by Kagame, seized control and triggered an exodus of more than 2 million Hutus.


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