Paul Kagame, Rwanda’s president, has removed the justice minister but named him ambassador to Britain amid international scrutiny over the trial of Paul Rusesabagina, the hotelier credited with saving many lives during the 1994 genocide.
Johnston Busingye, who served as Justice Minister and Attorney General since 2013, was fired without explanation on Tuesday, according to a government statement.
The statement said Buingye was appointed Rwanda’s ambassador to Britain.
Kagame did not name a new justice minister immediately. The presidential office and government spokespeople did not reply to requests for comment.
When Rusesabagina used his connections as manager of a Kigali hotel to save ethnic Tutsis during the genocide, he was hailed as a hero. The 2004 Hollywood film “Hotel Rwanda” portrayed him.
Currently, he is accused of nine terrorism-related charges, including funding and forming an armed rebel group. Rusesabagina, who lived in the United States at the time of his arrest, was a vocal critic of the Kagame government.
Rusesabagina’s family says he is suffering from poor health and is mistreated in prison. Prosecutors are seeking a life sentence for the prisoner. On Sept. 20, the court will issue its verdict.
According to Rusesabagina’s family, Rusesabagina was kidnapped last year when his government paid for the flight that brought him to Rwanda.
Trial of Russabagina has drawn attention to Kagame, whom rights groups say has used authoritarian tactics to crush political opposition.
Human Rights Watch said at the time that Rusesabagina’s arrest constituted an enforced disappearance that violated international law.
After halting the genocide in 1994 and killing about 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus, Kagame became head of state in 2000.
In subsequent elections, he won landslides, with nearly 99% of the vote in 2017. In 2015, he changed the constitution, enabling him to remain in power until 2034.