At a court hearing in the Rwandan capital, Kigali, Paul Rusesabagina, the man portrayed as a hero in Hollywood movie Hotel Rwanda about the genocide, said that though he was part of a group that formed the National Liberation Front (FLN) rebel movement it was “not for terrorism activities”.
The FLN is the military wing of the foreign-based opposition Rwandan Movement for Democratic Change (MRCD) and Mr Rusesabagina is its vice-president. It launched deadly attacks in south-west Rwanda between 2018 and 2019.
Mr Rusesabagina is facing 13 charges relating to terrorism and has been detained since he was brought to the country under mysterious circumstances at the end of August.
He has made no comment on the charges.
This was the first time he had appeared in court in a prison uniform.
He said he helped create the rebel group to “attract attention of the Rwandan government on issues of Rwandan refugees”.
But he added that he "wouldn’t downplay the crimes done by the FLN".
The prosecutor said that Mr Rusesabagina could in no way distance himself from the rebel atrocities as he was a top leader.
Mr Rusesabagina responded by saying he was in charge of political activities and the military group was independent.
The court hearing was related to his application for bail.