Crime & Justice

Lawyers for Hotel Rwanda hero warn he is at risk of torture

Kigali, Sep 8 (efe-epa).- The man who inspired the film Hotel Rwanda about the African nation’s 1994 genocide is at “immediate risk” of torture after his arrest on terrorism charges, his lawyers warned.

Paul Rusesabagina, who helped save hundreds of Tutsis while he was manager of the Hotel Des Milles Collines in Kigali, was arrested in Dubai at the end of August and taken to the Rwandan capital.

His legal team has called for immediate action on behalf of Rusesabagina, a longstanding critic of the Rwandan government.

In a letter to the United Nations special rapporteur on torture Nils Melzer on Monday, they said he was kidnapped, taken from Dubai to Rwanda and is being detained incommunicado by the Rwandan authorities in Kigali

Rusesabagina, who also holds Belgian nationality, has had no contact with his family, legal advisors or Belgian diplomats since 27 August, they added.

The Rwandan government has not provided proof he is alive since 31 August when authorities in Kigali paraded him in handcuffs in front of the media, according to his lawyers.

His lawyers warned that given serious human rights violations and his previous persecution by the Rwandan government, he is at immediate and serious risk of being “tortured or subjected to cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment”.

They asked Melzer to investigate the situation and communicate with the Rwandan government, urging it to provide evidence Rusesabagina is still alive.

The letter was released after Rwandan President Paul Kagame defended Rusesabagina’s arrest and accused him of being the leader of a terrorist group.

After international controversy generated by the detention and accusations of kidnapping from his family, Kagame said the arrest and transfer to Rwanda were made legally and that the “details will be known very soon”.

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