‘Hotel Rwanda’ Hero Sues Greek Air Charter for Aiding Kidnap

epa02416657 (FILE) A file picture dated 04 March 2007 of Paul Rusesabagina, the man who inspired the film Hotel Rwanda, at the Warwick Hotel in New York City, USA. The hotelier who was depicted heroically in the 2004 film "Hotel Rwanda" has denied charges by Rwandan authorities that he helped fund a rebel group, the broadcaster CNN reported on 28 October 2010. Paul Rusesabagina was accused by General Prosecutor Martin Ngoga of financially aiding the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, a Hutu rebel group that has links to the perpetrators of the genocide in Rwanda in 1994. EPA/E. SCHNEIDER / VOICES-UNABRIDGED / HO EDITORIAL USE ONLY

(Bloomberg) --Paul Rusesabagina, an outspoken critic of the Rwandan government who gained international fame through the 2004 movie “Hotel Rwanda,” sued a Greek air charter company in the U.S. for helping Rwandan agents kidnap him in an elaborate hoax.

By Laurel Calkins
Dec 15, 2020, 5:46 AM – Updated on Dec 15, 2020, 12:31 PM
Word Count: 414
Rusesabagina, 66, has been detained in his former country since late August, when he “disappeared” after boarding a GainJet Aviation SA flight for what he believed was a speaking engagement in Burundi, according to a complaint filed Monday in San Antonio federal court. Instead, he was flown to Rwanda, where he was arrested on arrival in Kigali and is being held in Nyarugenge prison.

Rusesabagina was awarded the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005, America’s highest civilian honor, for saving more than 1,200 countrymen hiding in his hotel from machete-wielding gangs during the 1994 genocide that claimed hundreds of thousands of Rwandan lives. Rusesabagina’s family has lived in exile in central Texas for several years after fleeing Belgium, where Rusesabagina holds citizenship. He has repeatedly criticized the African country’s leadership for political repression and extensive human-rights abuses.

Rwandan President Paul Kagame recently announced the former hotelier will be tried on nine terrorism-related charges alongside Rwandan rebels accused of murder. Rusesabagina maintains he has never aided terrorists and only assisted diplomatic and humanitarian interests.

Rusesabagina claims GainJet’s pilot and co-pilot were responsible for their passengers’ safety yet did nothing when they saw his abductors bind his hands before the plane landed in Kigali instead of Burundi.

Read More: ‘Hotel Rwanda’ Hero Denied Legal Rights, His Foundation Says

“GainJet and its employees and agents did not issue any international ‘Mayday’ call or ‘squawk ‘7700” on the radio — the internationally recognized code for distress or an emergency situation in flight,” Robert Hilliard, the Rusesabagina family’s lawyer, said in a 90-page complaint that catalogs alleged human-rights abuses by Kagame’s government and political party.

The complaint also accuses Constantin Niyomwungere, a Rwandan secret service agent who duped Rusesabagina into the fictitious speaking engagement, of conspiring with GainJet and of violating U.S. anti-terrorism and terror-victims’ rights laws.

Calls to the Rwandan prosecutor-general’s office seeking comment weren’t answered.

Kagame has said Rwanda did nothing wrong in the arrest of Rusesabagina, and the Rwandan government has rejected allegations by international human-rights groups that the country’s intelligence network has abducted and killed former allies in Rwanda and abroad.

The case is Rusesabagina v. GainJet Aviation, 20-cv-1422, U.S. District Court, Western District of Texas (San Antonio).

(Updates with efforts to reach Rwandan authorities for comment in eighth paragraph)
© 2020 Bloomberg L.P.


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Leon F says:

    And the African Union will again be silent on such atrocities…. Stating that they are not allowed to interfere in th einternal politics of member countries. Yet it is this exact same meddling that were required to bring abut change in South Africa.

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