A Rwandan court ruled that the trial of Paul Rusesabagina, who faces terrorism among other charges, will be held in his absence after he refused to attend the proceedings.
Rusesabagina and his defense lawyers were not present as the court resumed the trial hearings on Wednesday.
Rusesabagina, alongside 20 others, is charged with several counts of terrorism and armed violence that attract sentences ranging from 20 years to life imprisonment.
A report by authorities of the Nyarugenge Prison, where Rusesabagina is being held, and which was read in court, indicated that he declined to show up including in all other trial hearings that would follow as he expects to receive no justice from the court.
Commenting on his absence, the prosecution said his non-attendance should not stop the trial from going on as he had been legally notified about the proceedings and has chosen not to attend.
“Based on this, and the report from the prison authorities, and what Mr. Rusesabagina had earlier told the court that he would never come back to this trial, he is the one who decided to remove himself from this case.
“Therefore, we request the court to proceed with this trial as if the defendant was present because he has been notified based on the law and all decisions by the court,” argued the prosecution.
The judges ruled that the accused should attend court but failure not to would not stop the trial from proceeding.
“Court has decided that this hearing will carry on even in the absence of Rusesabagina. The court also finds that every time that he will not appear in court he will be informed of the next hearing, the time, and the venue. He, however, has the right to come to any of these hearings as long as the case is still open.”
Rusesabagina, 66, was arrested in August last year. He was made famous by the 2004 Hollywood movie Hotel Rwanda which depicts his heroic acts in saving over 1,000 people inside a hotel he managed during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsis.