Rwandan minister removed amid ‘Hotel Rwanda’ hero trial

Rawada Justice Minister Busingye Johnston waves as he leaves the Rwanda High Commission in London after a court in Britain dropped an extradition case against Rwanda's Intelligence chief, General Karenzi Karake on Aug 10, 2015.
(JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP)

KIGALI – Rwanda's President Paul Kagame has removed the justice minister but made him ambassador to Britian amid international scrutiny over the trial of Paul Rusesabagina, the hotelier credited with saving many lives during the 1994 genocide.

A government statement issued on Tuesday gave no reason for the dismissal of Johnston Busingye, who had served as justice minister and attorney general since 2013.

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A government statement issued on Tuesday gave no reason for the dismissal of Johnston Busingye, who had served as justice minister and attorney general since 2013

Busingye was appointed Rwanda's ambassador to Britain, the statement said.

Kagame did not immediately name a new justice minister. Requests for comment to government spokespeople and the presidency office were not answered.

Rusesabagina was hailed as hero after he used his connections as the manager of a Kigali hotel to save ethnic Tutsis from slaughter during the genocide. He was portrayed in the 2004 Hollywood film Hotel Rwanda.

Now he is accused of nine terrorism-related charges, including forming and funding an armed rebel group. Before his arrest, Rusesabagina, who was living in the United States, was a vocal critic of the Kagame government.

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Prosecutors have requested a life sentence for Rusesabagina, whose family says he is in poor health and being mistreated in prison. The court is scheduled to issue its verdict on Sept 20.