The prosecution has requested the special chamber of High court for International and Cross border crimes to hand Paul Rusesabagina a Life sentence, the highest in Rwandan law in a trial where he is accused to have committed nine crimes.
Eight of the crimes in Rusesabagina’s file are terror-related while another one is the creation of an illegal armed group.
In a trial involving 21 suspects including Rusesabagina, the prosecution today explained the nine accusations and said Rusesabagina who was not in court is liable and lenience should not apply because he did not plead guilty.
Charges include creation or entry of an illegal armed group, terrorism, engaging in terrorism for political gain, issuance of instructions in the act of terrorism, membership in a terrorist organization, conspiracy and incitement of terrorism, complicity in the crimes of murder as an act of terrorism, arson as an act of terrorism, theft as an act of terrorism.
The prosecution requested a sentence to each of the crimes, and sentences ranged from 10 years to life in jail.
Thus, referring to the principle of concurrence of offenses, the prosecution sought the highest sentence which is a Life sentence.
Rusesabagina was arrested in late August 2020 in Kigali and his trial started on September 14.
Prosecution linked him to terrorism activities that killed at least nine people among other damages in Nyaruguru, Nyamagabe and Nyamasheke districts in 2018-2019.
The terror activities were claimed by Force the Liberation National(FLN), a terror armed group of the Mouvement Rwandais pour le Changement Démocratique (MRCD).
The latter is a coalition of political organizations operating outside Rwanda with reported intention to destabilize the country.
The prosecution indicated that Rusesabagina was president and key sponsor of MRCD and thus, is liable.
Prior to Rusesabagina, the prosecution had also sought 25 year sentence against Callixte Nsabimana and 20 years to Herman Nsengimana.
The two were spokespersons of FLN in different times and were liable to terrorism charges, according to the prosecution.
On Thursday, the court asked the prosecution if being a member of FLN automatically meant being a member of MRCD. The prosecution confirmed that saying that”members of every party in coalition constitute the coalition because a coalition is made up by parties, and parties are made by individual people.”
The court also sought explanation on the case of Herman Nsengimana who claimed that his case of committing terrorism activities was filed using a provision of penal code valid since September 2018 yet the prosecution said the crime was committed in April 2018.
The defendant said he could not be liable of a crime that was not provided for in Rwandan law.
The prosecution explained that the same crime was provided for in the penal code of 2012 that was amended in 2018.
The prosecution said, that lenience would have applied in the case of Nsengimana, but he changed his mind and contradicted himself in his guilty plea.
Meanwhile, Rusesabagina extracted himself in this trial since March 12,2021 and ever since, he did not appear together with co-accused.
He claimed that he did not expect a fair trial.
The prosecution continues to seek sentences against other Rusesabagina’s co-accused.
The terrorism crime which was the basis to seek the highest sentence against Rusesabagina
Rwanda’s penal code, provisions about the prevention of terrorism crimes were no wonder the reference of the prosecution to seek the highest punishment – Life sentence against Rusesabagina.
The murder as an act of terrorism was the crime prosecution said should be punished with life sentence.
Given that most of the crimes, 8 out of 9 are related to terrorism, the prosecution took time to define terrorism according to the Penal code of Rwanda dated September 2018 as: to commit or threaten to commit acts aimed at leading State organs to change their functioning by taking hostages of one or more persons, killing, injuring or
threatening the population by use of any means that may kill or injure a person;
To commit or threaten to commit an act mentioned under item 1º of this Paragraph on political, religious or any