KIGALI (Reuters) – A Rwandan court ruled on Friday that it has jurisdiction to try Paul Rusesabagina, the hotelier depicted as a hero in the ‘Hotel Rwanda’ movie, despite his citizenship status because the alleged crimes were committed in Rwanda.
“Court finds that this chamber has jurisdiction to try Rusesabagina’s cases no matter whether he is of Rwandan or Belgian nationality,” Rwanda’s high court specialized chamber for international and cross border crimes said.
Rusesabagina is accused of terrorism-related offences. His family say Rusesabagina is in poor health and his trial is a sham.
His lawyer, Gatera Gashabana, said an appeal was planned against the ruling.
“I want the registrar to note that the client I represent wants to appeal against the decision that has just been made by this court,” he said.
The Oscar-nominated 2004 film “Hotel Rwanda” depicted Rusesabagina, played by the American actor Don Cheadle, using his connections as a hotel manager to protect ethnic Tutsis fleeing slaughter by Hutus in the country’s 1994 genocide.
Rusesabagina later acquired Belgian citizenship and became a U.S. resident. He became a vocal critic of President Paul Kagame and once called for armed resistance to the government in a YouTube video.
(Reporting by Clement Uwiringiyimana; Writing by Ayenat Mersie; Editing by Alex Richardson and Timothy Heritage)