PAUL RUSESABAGINA: A conman’s final journey

PAUL RUSESABAGINA: A conman’s final journey

The other day Rwanda’s Court of Appeal upheld a 25-year prison sentence against Paul Rusesabagina, an avowed genocide denier, negationist, and self-styled humanitarian. From what I hear nobody shed a tear in the whole of Rwanda.

It was a predictable outcome because the prosecution had presented convincing and overwhelming evidence, mostly all in the accused’s voice and numerous writings, not to mention banking information showing money transactions he sent to his terrorist organization, particularly FLN — his party’s armed wing.

The prosecution sought a stiffer sentence; life imprisonment. Those who doubt the impartiality of Rwanda’s judicial system will find comfort in Judge Francois-Regis Rukundakuvuga’s words. He said, ”Given that Paul Rusesabagina is a first time offender, the court feels that his sentence should not be increased because the 25 years he got are in line with the weight of his crimes and the court maintains his sentence.”

Paul Rusesabagina on his way to Court

When Rusesabagina was convicted I vowed to never write about him again. Allow me, one more chance, to get this off my chest and close this sad chapter of a man who thought he was bigger than he actually is, a man who has been fooled by his white followers and sympathisers outside Rwanda that he came to believe he was un-touchable, and if apprehended they would rescue him. Where are they now?

Like a fool he refused to take a cue from Victoire Ingabire’s case. She too believed that the ”international community” would rescue her. They wrote articles and made fools of themselves in the media to no avail. In the end Ingabire was smarter than the ”hero”of his own fake drama (Rusesabagina) and sought clemency after serving a few years behind bars. As the saying goes, there is no honor among thieves: Ingabire is back to her bad old seditious behavior. But, big brother is watching.

At no time throughout Rusesabagina’s case did he show remorse. None at all. The nine lives lost as a result of his reign of terror seemed expendable. And what did he do? He flipped his middle finger at the court by boycotting his own trial. Whoever gave him this advice surely did not have his best interests at heart. The accused’s conduct, attitude and showing remorse are all factors judges consider before passing sentence. Well, he made his bed now let him lie in it.

Rusesabbagina’s sins all began by grossly exaggerating his role in protecting nearly 1,300 Tutsis who had sought refugee at Hotel des Mille Collines. There is no evidence whatsoever to support his claims. When he was approached by movie Director Terry George who sought to dramatize the genocide against Tutsi in a movie (not a documentary or based on true events) he jumped on the chance to cash in. And from the moment the movie was released he grew wings and laughed all the way to the bank on the blood of his fellow Rwandans. Sadly, he did not fly like an eagle, but a scared, wimpy desert non-descript bird of prey.

Enter America: Rusesabagina was not ready for prime time, and his handlers forgot to tell him that if Americans don’t have a hero they will create one, in the image of Mickey Mouse, for instance — except that Mickey Mouse is funny. Rusesabagina is not. He is a hateful, convicted terrorist who belongs behind bars.

Paul Rusesabagina being escorted to Court

His handlers and white masters dressed him in expensive suits, taught him a few catch phrases, polished his English, paid him handsomely for his notoriously untrue and offensive childish speeches, and in the end gave him a Presidential Medal of Freedom. The brother thought he had finally arrived. Well, a pig with lipstick is still a pig. Right?

With fame and a hefty bank account, Rusesabagina actually started believing he was a power to contend with, and a political personality to be followed. His friend and neighbor, retired U.S. Sen Krueger persuaded him this was so. His speeches speak volumes about his ego which in the end led to his downfall. Like a fool he boarded a private plane he had neither booked nor paid for: destination un-known. Come on Paul.He was seen in the airport lobby prior to his departure sipping on champagne, happier than a drunken sailor, with no care in the world.

Talk of Rusesabagina being kidnapped is nothing but intellectual small talk. In any case, you cannot kidnap a terrorist with an outstanding international arrest warrant. Was he tricked, sure. Was he lured onto the plane, certainly. Neither one of these is illegal — otherwise the FBI, Mossad and former KGB would have ended at the ICC.

It is not necessary, but worth saying again : Rwanda has every right to protect her borders, and her citizens. Our sovereignty does not depend on the goodwill of others, not now, not ever. While I am not privy to how Rusesabagina un-ceremoniously arrived at Kigali International Airport, I will say this: I don’t give a hoot. What matters is that justice has been served, albeit late.