Rwanda Correctional Service (RCS), the national body in charge of prison facilities, has dismissed claims by Paul Rusesabagina’s daughter, Carine Kanimba, that he was denied all basic needs for him to be able to appeal or participate in the trial process.
In an interview with Voice of America, Kinyarwanda service, Kanimba claimed that Rusesabagina, who was sentenced to 25 years in prison by the High Court Chamber of International and Cross-border Crimes on terror-related charges, was denied basic rights, including access to his case file, a computer or even a pen.
Asked why Rusesabagina did not appeal the court decision within the stipulated 30 days, Kanimba said “all his basic rights were denied”.
“He was denied access to the case file which is 250-pages and includes the court decision. He was given access briefly and then it was denied thereafter. He was also denied access to his lawyers. Under such conditions, you cannot participate in the trial process,” Kanimba claimed.
However, the RCS Spokesperson, SSP Pelly Uwera Gakwaya, says the claims by Rusesabagina’s family are baseless because he has access to all basic needs and his lawyers have been visiting him regularly in Nyarugenge Prison, commonly known as Mageragere, where he is currently held.
“The claims are not true. Rusesabagina has access to all basic needs as many convicts do, including access to the case file and everything relating to the trial. To appeal or not to appeal is his right but he had everything that he needs in place,”
“He had access to his file any time, either in hard copy or soft copies which are accessible in the system. He also has access to a laptop, unlike many prisoners,” SSP Uwera said, adding that Rusesabagina had everything in place to appeal if he wanted.
The RCS Spokesperson said that Rusesabagina is visited by his lawyers led by Gatera Gashabana, anytime they want to access him and they also have access to the case file.
“Even on Monday they visited him. He also has access to stationery materials including books and pens. He has access to a computer too. Everything else his family is saying is an excuse,” SSP Uwera told KT Press.
The development comes after the National Public Prosecution Authority (NPPA) said it had appealed some of the decision in the case involving Callixte Nsabimana, Paul Rusesabagina and 19 others who were handed various sentences by the High Court Chamber for International and Cross-border crimes on September 20.
The Judiciary Spokesperson, Harrison Mutabazi, told KT Press that at least 13 of the convicts have also filed appeals while 74 civil parties also filed. Majority of those are seeking compensation.