The trial involving terror-suspects Paul Rusesebagina, Callixte Nsabimana and 19 others, all members of the MRCD/FLN coalition led by the ‘Hotel Rwanda’ protagonist will continue today Thursday with the Prosecution revealing more details of how the crimes were committed.
The trial, which is being heard by the High Court Special Chamber of International and Cross-border Crimes, resumed on Wednesday with all the other 20 suspects appearing in the courtroom, except Rusesabagina, who once again did not attend the hearing.
The Director of Nyarugenge Rwanda Correctional Service facility CSP Michael Kamugisha wrote to the court informing it that Rusesabagina had said that he would not attend the court hearing that Judge Antoine Muhima said that it was his right but the substantive trial would continue as earlier ruled.
The 66-year-old, who faces nine terror-related charges he allegedly committed as the leader of the Rwanda Movement for Democratic Change (MRCD)/National Liberation Front (FLN) coalition, took a decision to not to appear in court but the trial continued.
On Wednesday, Prosecution continued from where they had stopped on April, revealing details of how Rusesabagina committed the alleged crimes, dwelling particularly on the attack’s his FLN outfit carried out in different South Western districts of Rwanda, meting out violence on innocent civilians.
Prosecutor Bonaventure Ruberwa told court while explained the three remaining charges that Rusesabagina as the leader of the group is responsible for the attacks in the districts of Nyaruguru, Nyamagabe, Rusizi and Nyamasheke in which people were violently beaten and their properties destroyed.
He said the armed group which operated under Rusesabagina’s orders, set fire on houses, motorcycles in Nyaruguru, Nyamagabe and Rusizi districts during an attack carried out on June 19, 2018,
Rubera said that one of the victims of the attack was a lawyer identified as Yussuf Ndutiye, who was ambushed by the rebels in Nyungwe Forest, thrown out of his car, before it was torched and also took his belongings.
That same day, FLN militias stopped a passenger service vehicle, shot at it and its occupants before setting it on fire. Ruberwa said that the attacks were meted out on innocent civilians who had nothing to do with military activities.
Prosecution showed photos of the attacks, including on a house in which Vincent Nsengiyumva, the Executive Secretary of Nyabimata Sector in Nyaruguru district, lived as well his vehicle which was also set ablaze. Nsengiyumva was also shot but luckily, he survived. He is among the people in the case.
Ruberwa said that the violent and arson acts were ‘nothing but acts of terror aimed at intimidating and threatening citizens.’
Apart from arson, Ruberwa also explained how Rusesabagina, as the leader and financier of FLN is liable for intentional murder as an act of terrorism where people were shot at and grenades lobed at them but likely they survived but the intent was to murder them.
Prosecution said that Alice Kayitesi, one of the victims of the 2018 attack on a Coaster car in Nyamagabe District, who was interviewed on June 5, 2019, explained that when they entered Nyungwe Forest in an Alpha Transport Company vehicle from Rusizi to Kigali, they found trees blocking the road.
When the bus tried to go over the logs, FLN fighters opened fire on it, deflating the tires, injuring the occupants of the bus. Ruberwa said that this act was an intentional act of murder.
Prosecution also detailed attacks on Rusizi district which took place between May and October 2019. Several victims of the attacks including Félix Rutayisire and Joseph Nsabimana, who were victims of a grenade attack, said they sustained injuries that led to permanent disability.
Ruberwa also shed light on the different violent acts that constitute a crime, including beatings, torture and intentional bodily harm, all of which were committed to intimidate citizens.
Prosecutor Claudine Dushimimana reiterated that Rusesabagina, as the leader of the group and main financier, is liable to these crimes and he should be held accountable.
After Rusesabagina’s crimes, court shifted attention to Col. Marc Nizeyimana, another senior member of FLN, who also faces 9 charges including being a member of an illegal military out, being a member of a terrorist organisation, murder as an act of terrorism and human trafficking as an act of terrorism, among others.
Nizeyimana is a former member of Democratic Forces for Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR/FOCA), which he joined in 2000, till 2016 when he joined the National Council for Renewal and Democracy (CNRD Ubwiyunge) and later FNL. He was captured by Congolese Government forces on February 28, 2020 before he was returned to Rwanda.
Prosecutor Dushimimana said that Col. Nizeyimana Marc when questioned about the charges against him and after being explained he said he agreed. He acknowledged that their numbers were not enough to defeat the FDLR and the FLN.
The Prosecutor said that Col Nizeyimana, who joined the army in 1995, admitted to some of the charges during questioning and also admitted to working with a ‘foreign government’ to plot against Rwanda.
Nizeyimana also confirmed that he worked closely with senior Burundian officials to undermine Rwanda’s security and also gave details of how FLN fighters left DRC to Burundi, from where they plotted and carried out the attacks.
Prosecution said that before the attacks, Col. Nizeyimana met fellow FLN member Col Alex Rusanganwa alias Guado in Burundi from where they planned the attacks. Prosecution described him as a key fighter and strategist who coordinated movements from DRC to Burundi and the attacks.
As someone who knew the area and with experience, Col. Nizeyimana was key in the attacks in which at least nine people were killed, many others injured and properties worth millions destroyed. He has since admitted to the majority of the charges and sought leniency of the court.
The Thursday hearing will focus on Cassien Bizimana alias Bizimana Patience, also known as Passy or Selemani.