Paul Rusesabagina, ‘Hotel Rwanda’ Hero, Gives Jailhouse Interview

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KIGALI, Rwanda — The previous hotelier lauded as a hero in the course of the 1994 Rwanda genocide says he was duped by the Rwandan authorities into returning to his house nation final month to face prices of terrorism and homicide, boarding a airplane he thought was going to Burundi as a substitute.

Paul Rusesabagina, whose story impressed the film “Hotel Rwanda,” made the assertion in an interview to The New York Instances on Tuesday — as authorities officers listened in — on the Kigali Metropolitan Police headquarters, the place he has been held for greater than two weeks.

A outstanding authorities critic who had been residing in exile in Texas, Mr. Rusesabagina, 66, stated that in his first few days of custody within the fingers of Rwandan intelligence operatives, he was saved tied up and didn’t know the place he was. His remedy has improved since then, he stated.

Mr. Rusesabagina stated he was giving the interview voluntarily, however he gave the impression to be talking underneath duress.

Within the interview, which was licensed by the federal government, Mr. Rusesabagina provided an account of how he got here to fade from an airport in Dubai — after which present up in handcuffs days later in Kigali, the Rwandan capital. However his story additionally raised extra questions concerning the circumstances of his disappearance, which created a sensation, partially due to his film fame.

Mr. Rusesabagina, who has lived for years in Belgium and the USA, stated he thought the non-public airplane he was boarding in Dubai was sure for Bujumbura, Burundi, the place he deliberate to talk to church buildings on the invitation of a neighborhood pastor.

As an alternative, he stated, when he stepped exterior the plane after touchdown within the predawn hours of Aug. 29, he was surrounded by Rwandan troopers and realized he was not in Burundi however in neighboring Rwanda, the place he had final been 16 years in the past. He stated it was a shock.

Requested how he reacted, Mr. Rusesabagina stated, “Imagine how you would feel if you find yourself where you are not supposed to be.”

Mr. Rusesabagina’s account got here barely every week after President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, breaking his silence concerning the arrest, stated he had been lured into coming again “on the basis of what he believed and what he wanted to do.”

Mr. Rusesabagina’s household insists that he would by no means have voluntarily returned to Rwanda. They’ve accused the Kagame government of kidnapping him from Dubai, and demanded to know extra concerning the circumstances of his switch.

The Rwandan authorities had been attempting for a minimum of a decade to apprehend Mr. Rusesabagina, who was catapulted to fame by the 2004 film, through which he was performed by the actor Don Cheadle.

To a lot of the world, Mr. Rusesabagina is a hero who risked his personal life to shelter greater than 1,200 Rwandans from slaughter. He acquired the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President George W. Bush in 2005.

The Rwandan authorities, although, calls him a harmful subversive who has supported anti-government teams which have launched assaults on Rwanda. A court docket in Kigali on Monday introduced 13 prices towards him, together with terrorism, complicity in kidnap and homicide and forming a insurgent group. On Thursday, he was denied bail and detained for a minimum of one other 30 days.

Mr. Rusesabagina’s supporters say that Mr. Kagame, who tolerates just about no dissent inside his nation, is searching for to sideline a possible political rival.

Mr. Rusesabagina stated within the interview that he’s harmless of the fees towards him.

The interview was performed within the room the place Mr. Rusesabagina is being held, a stark, clear area with a mattress lined with mosquito netting. Mr. Rusesabagina was wearing khaki pants, a go well with jacket and loafers, and was sporting a gold watch.

Listening in had been his two attorneys — whom the federal government says he chosen from a listing they gave him — and officers with the Rwanda Investigation Bureau and the police, wearing civilian garments. Mr. Rusesabagina’s household stated in interviews that they employed a distinct set of attorneys in Rwanda who haven’t been allowed to see him.

However he dismissed his household’s considerations about his illustration, saying, “I chose my lawyers and I am happy with them. But my family is not informed.”

Mr. Rusesabagina stated that he had hypertension and that the Rwandan authorities had despatched medical doctors to see him.

“A lot of people come,” he stated. “They talk to me. They even clean my room sometimes. They give me food. They are very kind. Everything has been smooth. So far, so good.”

For no matter gentle the interview shed on his state of affairs, Mr. Rusesabagina’s account was at instances muddled.

He couldn’t say, for instance, what occurred to him in the course of the three days between his flight from Dubai and his reappearance in Kigali.

“Well, I was taken somewhere,” he stated. “I do not know where. I was tied — the leg, the hands, face. I could not see anything. I don’t know where I was.”

Requested whether or not he had been interrogated, Mr. Rusesabagina stated, “Not that much.”

Pressed to elucidate additional, he stated: “No, not really. Nobody interrogated me. Yeah.”

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