Legaler Aid, the crowd justice platform launched by Stevie Ghiassi, the founder of legal tech company Legaler, is now hoping to help fund lawyers to free Paul Rusesabagina, the ‘Hotel Rwanda’ hero, after he was taken by the Rwandan Government and placed on trial.
As the BBC has reported, Rusesabagina became famous after the 2004 film ‘Hotel Rwanda’, which depicted his efforts to save hundreds of people from being murdered during the 1994 genocide. Later, while living in exile, he became the leader of Rwanda’s opposition MRCD group, the BBC noted.
Politicians in the US and EU are also campaigning to free him.
As the recent news piece by the BBC explained: ‘Rusesabagina said he had been tricked by a pastor in August 2020 into taking a trip to Burundi which he believed was for speaking engagements.’
‘He left his home in San Antonio, Texas, and flew to Dubai. Rusesabagina said he then boarded a private plane which he thought was going to Burundi’s capital, Bujumbura. Instead, the plane landed in Kigali. Rusesabagina said that he was kidnapped, his legs and arms were tied and he was blindfolded before landing.’
‘However, Rwandan officials said Rusesabagina was arrested under an international warrant. Prosecutors denied he had been kidnapped, insisting due process had been followed.’
Ghiassi told this site: ‘Legaler Aid was advised not to take the case, but as a team we decided it was exactly what the platform stood for and decided to run the campaign.’
‘The Rusesabagina case represents everything Legaler Aid stands for – to give the public a platform to crowdsource justice. He’s also a US resident and Belgian citizen – this could be any of us in this situation,’ Ghiassi explained.
And how will donating money help? ‘He has a large team of renowned global human rights lawyers, but there are still many costs involved in running an international case such as this including legal fees, security, travel and experts,’ Ghiassi said.
But, why donate in this way? Ghiassi stressed that ‘the Legaler Aid platform delivers greater transparency than other crowdfunding platforms like GoFundMe as there is always a law firm involved i.e. there is ‘donor to recipient’ accountability of funds that includes how funds are used by the firm through milestone and case updates’.
If you’d like to learn more, check out the site here.