Lawyer for ‘Hotel Rwanda’ hero deported for visa violation

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Paul Rusesabagina
Paul Rusesabagina

Rwandan authorities have deported a Belgian lawyer representing Paul Rusesabagina – an ex-hotelier whose story inspired the film Hotel Rwanda, based on the country’s 1994 genocide.

Officials said that Vincent Lurquin was deported on Saturday for working without a permit.

Earlier he’d appeared in court to represent Mr Rusesabagina, who is accused of nine terrorism-related charges, including forming and funding an armed rebel group.

Mr Lurquin is Mr Rusesabagina’s lawyer in Belgium and has not been defending him during the trial, reports the AFP news agency.

He has not commented on his deportation.

Regis Gatarayiha, Rwanda’s director general of immigration, told Reuters news agency that Mr Lurquin was in the country on a visitor’s visa, and had not been accredited by the Rwandan Bar Association.

Mr Rusesabagina, 66, became famous after Don Cheadle played him in the 2004 film Hotel Rwanda, which depicts his efforts to save hundreds of people from being murdered during the 1994 genocide.

He left Rwanda in 1996 and sought asylum in Belgium, and later the US. While living in exile, he became the leader of Rwanda’s opposition MRCD group. It has an armed wing, the FLN, which stages attacks in Rwanda.

Mr Rusesabagina has denied the charges against him, and has accused the government of kidnapping him and bringing him back to Rwanda.

The authorities say he was arrested under an international warrant.

Paul Rusesabagina, the ex-hotelier portrayed as a hero in the 2004 film about Rwanda’s 1994 genocide, is accused of nine terrorism-related charges, including forming and funding an armed rebel group.

Vincent Lurquin was deported on Saturday after appearing in court as one of Rusesabagina’s lawyers the previous day despite lacking legal permission to do so, officials said.

“He did some work, but he was not authorized to work,” Regis Gatarayiha, director general at the Rwanda Directorate General of Immigration and Emigration, told Reuters. Lurquin was in the country on a visitor’s visa, Gatarayiha said.

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