KIGALI, Rwanda – Paul Roussebagina, portrayed in the film Hotel Rwanda as the hero who saved the lives of more than 1,200 people from the country’s genocide in 1994, has been arrested by the Rwandan government on terrorism charges, police said Monday.
A well-known critic of President Paul Kagame, Rusesabagina has lived outside Rwanda since 1996 and police have not said where he was detained. He lived in Belgium and then in Texas in the United States
With handcuffs and a face mask, the 66-year-old Rusesabagina was shown to the press in the capital of Rwanda Kigali by the police. He has not yet been formally charged in court.
“Through international co-operation, the Rwanda Bureau of Investigation wants to inform the general public that Paul Rusesabagina has been arrested,”
“Rusesabagina is suspected of being the founder, leader, sponsor and member of clothing for violence, armed extremist terror, including the Rwandan Movement for Democratic Change (MRCD), which operates outside various places in the region and abroad,” police said.
There was an international arrest warrant for Rusesabagina to answer charges of serious crimes, including terrorism, arson, kidnappings and killings against unarmed, innocent Rwandan civilians in Rwanda, police said. Police told Kigali media that investigations against Rusesabagina would continue and more information about his alleged activities would be published.
Earlier, Rusesabagina denied the government’s accusations that it financially supported the Rwandan rebels.
Rusesabagina is a prominent critic of Kagame’s government, calling it a dictatorship and calling on Western countries to pressure the government to respect human rights.
Government supporters have rejected Rusesabagina’s criticism, saying Kagame’s leadership supports democracy and economic growth.
Rusesabagina has won numerous international awards, including the US Presidential Bush Medal of Freedom, which President George W. Bush awarded him in 2005.
The Rwandan government disputes Rusesabagina’s story of rescuing survivors at a hotel in Kigali during a genocide in which more than 800,000 Tutsis and Hutus who tried to protect them were killed by Hutus.
The 2004 film Hotel Rwanda shows Roussebagina, a Tutu-married Hutu who uses her influence as the manager of the Hotel des Mille Collines to allow more than 1,200 Tutsi to stay in hotel rooms. In the film, Rusesabagina is played by actor Don Cheadle.
Nafatal Ahishakie, executive secretary of the Rwanda Ibuka Survival Organization, said Rusesabagina’s arrest was good news for genocide survivors. Ahishakie said Rusesabagina had charged people money so they could survive at the hotel.