Rwandan President Paul Kagame has denied that a detained opposition figure who inspired the Hollywood film Hotel Rwanda was kidnapped in order to be brought back to the country, saying he was responsible for his own arrest.
Appearing on national television yesterday, Kagame did not explain how Rusesabagina – who had lived outside Rwanda since 1996 and is a citizen of Belgium and has a US permanent residence permit – was brought back.
The 66-year-old’s family has said they believe he was “kidnapped” during a visit to Dubai and that he would never knowingly have boarded a plane to Kigali.
But Kagame suggested that Rusesabagina came of his own accord.
“With kidnap, that was not the case, and he will attest that to himself. There was no kidnap. There was no wrongdoing in the process of his getting here,” Kagame said, describing the handling of the case as “flawless”.
The president suggested that Rusesabagina was told a story that fit into his expectations and ended up in Rwanda.
“How he got here was more to do with himself than anybody else,” Kagame said. “And he will say it; when the time comes, he will the people what happened.”
The Hotel Rwanda Rusesabagina Foundation said Rusesabagina has had no consular visits, and it rejected the Rwandan government’s statement that it had talked to his sons about a potential visit as “not true”.
“Paul’s wife has called the jail and has not been allowed to talk to him,” it said on Saturday.
Paul Rusesabagina is credited for saving 1,200 lives during the country’s 1994 genocide by letting people shelter in the hotel he was managing during the mass killings.
The outspoken government critic is now accused of supporting rebel violence in Rwanda