Paul Rusesabagina, portrayed as a hero in a Hollywood movie about Rwanda’s 1994 genocide, was charged with 12 counts against him on Monday including terrorism.
It’s one of Rwanda’s most high profile cases against a government critic. He appeared in the Kigali court and was also accused of complicity in murder and forming or joining an irregular armed group.
Rusesabagina is the leader of an opposition group, the Rwandan Movement for Democratic Change, which is said to have an armed wing called the National Liberation Front.
The 66-year-old has Belgium citizenship and was living abroad.
His lawyer, Vincent Lurquin, said he hoped he could get to Rwanda this month.
“In order to go to Rwanda, there is a big procedure, especially with visas. So we hope that the Rwandan government will accept that we have visas in order for us to defend Mr. Rusesabagina over there.
“But I have to tell you that the talks between the Belgian and the Rwanda authorities on that front are not progressing much. .”
His lawyer has urged his provisional release.
“The conditions of his detention are very tough for him and for his health. But other than that he cannot talk about anything else as he is never alone, even when he speaks with his family over the phone,” said Lurquin.
It is still unclear how Rusesabagina came to be in Rwanda.
His family says the charges against him are politically motivated and allege he was kidnapped while in Dubai for meetings and brought to Rwanda against his will.
The Rwanda Investigation Bureau has said international cooperation was involved in detaining Rusesabagina — who has lived abroad since 1996 and holds both Belgian citizenship and a US Green Card — but refuses to disclose further details.
He’s credited with saving more than 1,2000 Rwandans by sheltering them in a hotel.