Rusesabagina’s claims won’t take away his criminality, victims say

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Esha Saxena Mandala
Esha Saxena Mandala
Esha Saxena Mandala has extensive experience as a freelance writer, journalist, and content strategist. She has over six years of editorial and inbound marketing expertise and is fascinated with creating wonderful content that is insanely useful and effective.

Victims of the 2018 and 2019 FLN terror attacks that claimed nine lives in south western Rwanda have spoken out on the recent video broadcasts made by convicted Paul Rusesabagina, the man who founded the MRCD political outfit which has oversight over the FLN militia.

Rusesabagina, 69, was sentenced to 25 years in prison in 2021 after being found guilty of committing acts of terrorism. However, in early 2023, his sentence was commuted after he wrote seeking a presidential pardon.

A few months after his release, he released a video on Saturday, July 1, where he claimed that he was falsely accused.

His claims are in denial of contents he penned to the head-of-state seeking for a pardon earlier this year. Part of the letter read: “I wish to express my regret for any connection my work with the MRCD may have had to violent actions taken by the FLN. First, to be clear, I do not condone violence. Violence is never acceptable, including the use of violence to achieve political aims. Violence as a political tool is plainly wrong and more grievously so when used to target civilians.”

In the letter, he went on to say he abhors any violence committed against civilians, whether by FLN or other groups.

In reaction to Rusesabagina’s recent video, Faustin Murangwa, one of the lawyers representing the victims of the FLN attacks, said his words do not take away his criminality.

“He knows that there is a court that has convicted him of crimes and sentenced him. Those crimes claimed people’s lives and property,” he said.

“The court’s decision was based on evidence, not politics. This evidence includes things that he showcased himself, for which he even sought forgiveness in a letter he wrote asking for a pardon. What we see is that he is trying to wipe away his shame by telling lies to the nations, claiming that he cannot commit crimes like terrorism because he is called a hero,” he added.

Yusuf Ndutiye, one of the FLN victims, told The New Times about how unwelcome Rusesabagina’s latest comments were.

“He should really showcase how killing civilians, looting and destroying their property is related to politics. He does not want to admit to the Americans and Europeans that he was imprisoned because of such crimes, that is why he is making up stories,” he noted.

Ndutiye fell into an FLN ambush in Nyungwe forest, in Nyamagabe district in 2018 as he was driving back to Kigali.

His Volkswagen Golf car (model 4, produced in 2000) was burned during the attack, though he escaped.

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