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Rwanda: Prosecution Pins Rusesabagina on Financing a Terror Group

Prosecution on Wednesday, March 31, revealed in detail to court how Paul Rusesabagina financed terrorism activities during his reign as president of MRCD.

Just like during the previous two hearings, Rusesabagina did not attend Wednesday’s trial following his pronouncement before court on March 12 that he would no longer attend hearings.

His decision followed a court ruling that rejected his request to push trial for six months.

He is among 21 individuals being tried at the High Court Special Chamber for International and Cross-border Crimes over accusations linked to terrorism committed by MRCD-FLN.

His co-accused attended the hearing that is presided over by high court judge Antoine Muhima.

Rusesabagina faces nine charges including formation of an irregular armed group, membership of a terrorist group, financing terrorism, murder as an act of terrorism, and abduction as an act of terrorism.

Other counts are armed robbery as an act of terrorism, arson as an act of terrorism, attempted murder as an act of terrorism, and assault and battery as an act of terrorism.

According to prosecution, on the charge of financing terrorism, Rusesabagina on several occasions personally sent money to ‘General’ Wilson Irategeka, who was the leader of FLN, to run terror activities of the militia group based in D.R. Congo.

Irategeka was eventually killed in a military offensive by DR Congo military against armed groups operating in the country.

During Wednesday’s hearing, Claudine Dushimimana, a National Prosecutor, mentioned that during interrogations, Rusesabagina admitted sending a total of $20,000 to FLN, adding that, there were also other sums of money that would be collected through fundraisings organized by MRCD and contributions by members of the coalition.

Besides Rusesabagina’s admission, prosecutors said they have material evidence attesting to this.

Prosecution informed court that some of the money would be transferred to FLN through one Eric Munyemana, the treasurer of MRCD, who would then send it to Irategeka.

According to findings of Belgian police, said prosecution, Munyemana admitted sending the money.

“All the transfers were sanctioned by MRCD-FLN leadership that was chaired by Paul Rusesabagina, and the top leadership would receive reports of how the money was used,” added prosecutor Dushimimana.

Court heard the recipients of the money were mainly based in DR Congo. Others were based in Madagascar, Comoros, and Rwanda.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday, prosecution also pinned Rusesabagina on charges of forming an irregular armed group and being a member of a terrorist group.

Rusesabagina, together with Wilson Irategeka, Callixte Nsabimana alias Sankara came together to form MRCD as a coalition, and later its military wing FLN.

Through media outlets, MRCD-FLN claimed responsibility for attacks that claimed at least nine lives and destroyed properties in Rwanda between 2018 and 2019.

In the ongoing substantive trial, the court has not yet heard defense of the accused.

The trial is expected to resume on Thursday, April 1 at 8:30 a.m.

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