"Hotel Rwanda" hero implicated in terrorism case

KIGALI (Reuters) - Paul Rusesabagina, the man who saved more than 1,200 people from genocide in events depicted in the Oscar-nominated film “Hotel Rwanda,” has been implicated in the terrorism case against a Rwandan opposition leader.

The 2004 movie “Hotel Rwanda” told Rusesabagina’s real-life story as the hotel manager (played by Don Cheadle) who used his connections with the Hutu elite to protect Tutsis and moderate Hutus fleeing militiamen during Rwanda’s 1994 genocide.

Martin Ngoga, Rwanda’s prosecutor general, told Reuters on Wednesday that Rwandan courts would summon Rusesabagina because investigations indicated he funded the terrorism activities that opposition leader Victoire Ingabire is being held for.

Ingabire, the outspoken head of the unregistered United Democratic Forces (UDF) party, was arrested by Rwandan police on October 14. She pleaded not guilty at a hearing on Monday and has said the case against her is politically motivated.

“We have evidence that Paul Rusesabagina is one of those others who have been financing the same genocidal rebels of the FDLR,” Ngoga said.

“We have the dates of transactions made. Money was sent from San Antonio, Texas, and received in different banks in Bujumbura and Dar es Salaam. The people who received this money told us what the money was for,” he said.

“Hotel Rwanda” was nominated for three Oscars, including a best actor nomination for Cheadle. Rusesabagina now lives in the United States and tours Western countries lecturing on Rwanda’s 1994 genocide. He is an outspoken critic of President Paul Kagame, saying an ethnic Tutsi elite now runs the central African country and risks reigniting violence there.

His story has also won him audiences with a number of high-profile personalities including former U.S. President George W. Bush. He received the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005 for heroism during Rwanda’s genocide.

Some 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were butchered in the central African nation in 100 days from April 6, 1994.

Ngoga called on the United States to help Rwanda investigate Rusesabagina’s case.

“The Rwandan law allows prosecution in absentia. The transactions are enough to offer the evidence. Rwanda has already made contacts with the war crimes office in the U.S. and this evidence has been submitted,” he said.

“The U.S. has shown signs of cooperating. If terrorism is a crime in the USA, then what about financial support of a genocidal organization?”

Editing by David Clarke and Tim Pearce