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Rwandan Hotelier to Be Tried for Forming a Rebel Group

Rwanda’s prosecution says it intends to hold a joint trial of Paul Rusesabagina together with 16 prisoners alleged to be rebel fighters. Rusesabagina, 66, is a founder of the Rwanda Movement for Democratic Change, a coalition of opposition groups, which has an armed wing known as the National Liberation Front. The government accuses the rebel group of killing Rwandans in the country’s north.  In court last month, Rusesabagina admitted his ties to the rebels but said the group was never meant to kill Rwandans. Rwandan authorities said the rebel fighters to stand trial with Rusesabagina include two former spokesmen, now in detention in Kigali.  Rusesabagina has been charged with 13 offenses that also include financing terrorism, complicity in murder, recruiting child soldiers and forming a rebel group. He faces a maximum of 25 years in prison if he is convicted. He has been denied bail pending the trial, the date of which has not yet been set. Rusesabagina’s family and supporters have described the upcoming trial as a sham, calling on the Rwandan leadership to first explain the circumstances under which Rusesabagina was brought to the country. His family says he was pressured to say that he had ties to the rebels. Rusesabagina had asked to be released on bail, citing poor health that has caused him to be taken to a hospital three times since he first appeared in handcuffs in Rwanda on Aug. 31. He looked frail during his court appearances. Rusesabagina is reported to have saved more than 1,000 lives during Rwanda’s 1994 genocide that killed some 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus. For his efforts, he was awarded the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005.