Rusesabagina, a former hotel manager portrayed as a hero in a Hollywood film about the 1994 genocide, was found guilty of being part of a terrorist group in Rwanda on Monday.
A judge said 20 defendants, including Rusesabagina, should be convicted for belonging to the MRCD-FLN terror group. They attacked people in their homes or even in their cars on the road.”
As a result of Rusesabagina, 67, being arrested at Dubai’s airport last year after he was allegedly kidnapped by Rwandan authorities, the case has obtained high visibility.
After being portrayed by actor Don Cheadle in the 2004 film “Hotel Rwanda”, Rusesabagina emerged as a prominent critic of President Paul Kagame based in the United States. While his supporters called the trial a sham and proof of Kagame’s ruthless treatment of political opponents, he denied all the charges against him.
The prosecution sought a life sentence on nine counts, including terrorism, arson, taking hostages, and forming an armed rebel group back home. But one of the defendants fell ill, which delayed verdicts on the other charges and sentencing.
As the boss of a luxury hotel in the Rwandan capital Kigali during the genocide when Hutu ethnic extremists killed more than 800,000 Tutsi people, Rusesabagina became a global celebrity after the film.
Rusesabagina used his fame to highlight what he saw as rights violations by Kagame, the Tutsi rebel commander who took power after his forces captured Kigali, stopping the genocide. Cheadle was nominated for an Oscar for the role.
The trial began in February, six months after Rubesabagina arrived in Kigali by plane from Dubai. Human Rights Watch called his arrest an enforced disappearance and a serious violation of international law.