‘Hotel Rwanda’ Hero Rusesabagina Found Guilty of Terrorism
A Rwandan court jailed Paul Rusesabagina, an outspoken critic of the East African nation’s government who gained international fame through the 2004 film ‘Hotel Rwanda,’ for terrorism.
The High Court Special Chamber for International and Cross-Border Crimes sentenced Rusesabagina to 25 years in prison after finding him guilty of charges including terrorism on Monday.
“The court finds Rusesabagina guilty of being part of a terrorist group that conducted raids on Rwanda, claiming lives of civilians, wounding others and looting properties and sentence him to 25 years in prison,” Judge Beatrice Mukamurenzi said in the Rwandan capital, Kigali. The sentence won’t be reduced because he refused to attend court, she said.
Rusesabagina, 67, has been detained since August 2020, when he “disappeared” after boarding a GainJet Aviation SA flight for what he believed was a speaking engagement in Burundi, according to a complaint filed in a San Antonio federal court. Instead, he was flown to neighboring Rwanda, where he was arrested on arrival in Kigali.
Rusesabagina was portrayed as a hero in the Oscar-nominated 2004 movie ‘Hotel Rwanda’ for helping shelter more than 1,200 people from machete-wielding gangs during the 1994 genocide that left at least 800,000 people dead. His family has lived in exile in central Texas for several years after fleeing Belgium, where he holds citizenship. He has repeatedly criticized Rwandan President Paul Kagame for political repression and extensive human-rights abuses.
Rusesabagina, who denied wrongdoing, was tried with several accomplices. They were charged with nine counts, including forming an illegal armed group, financing terror activities, murder as an act of terror, kidnap as an act of terror, and arson as an act of terror.
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