Paul Rusesabagina, the man portrayed as a hero in popular Hollywood movie, ‘Hotel Rwanda’, which shed light on the Rwandan genocide, says he is suing a Greek charter flight company for aiding his alleged kidnap by the Rwandan authorities.
Paul Rusesabagina says that in August he intended to visit Burundi but after he boarded a private flight in Dubai he was instead flown to Rwanda.
He has filed a lawsuit in Texas, where he has been living, against the charter company GainJet, alleging the company agreed to facilitate the plane journey because of its close relationship with officials in Rwanda.
He says he was tricked by a pastor into taking a trip to Burundi for speaking engagements.
According to Paul, he was arrested by Rwandan authorities for leading “terrorist movements”
An ethnic Hutu, Paul Rusesabagina became well known after the 2004 film ‘Hotel Rwanda’ depicted his efforts in the 90s during the Rwandan genocide to save hundreds of Tutsis at a hotel where he was a manager.
He had been living in exile and has Belgian citizenship and a US green card.
Paul is a fierce critic of President Paul Kagame and is also the leader of the opposition MRCD group. He has denied all charges of terrorism leveled towards him by the government.
The Rwandan government says MRCD has an armed wing, the National Liberation Front (FLN), which stages attacks on Rwanda.
Rwanda has charged him with terrorism, financing terrorism, recruiting child soldiers, kidnapping, arson, and forming terror groups.
In September, a Rwandan court heard allegations that the FLN had received help from Zambia’s President Edgar Lungu because of his close friendship with Mr Rusesabagina.
His lawyers denied the charges against him and Mr Lungu’s spokesman denied the allegation in a BBC interview.
“Paul was bound and gagged before the plane landed in Rwanda,” said his lawyer Robert Hilliard.
“The pilots have an international responsibility to every single one of the people on the plane. They cannot be complicit with kidnappers and say go ahead and tie him up, go ahead and drug him, go ahead and bind him, go ahead and bind his feet and his hands and we’ll get you to Rwanda where you can then pretend he’s going to get a fair trial,” he added.
Rwanda’s Justice Minister Johnston Busingye has denied that Mr Rusesabagina was kidnapped and insisted he will get a fair trial on 26 January.
As at presstime, GainJet has not responded to the allegations.
The 2004 film Hotel Rwanda told the story of how Mr Rusesabagina, a middle-class Hutu man married to a Tutsi woman, used his influence – and bribes – to convince military officials to secure a safe escape for an estimated 1,200 people who sought shelter at the Mille Collines Hotel in Kigali.
Don Cheadle (pictured above) played Mr Rusesabagina in the film.