‘Hotel Rwanda’ hero Rusesabagina sentenced to 25 years in prison

After he was found guilty of terrorism charges, Paul Rusesabagina has been sentenced to 25 years in prison by a Rwandan court. Rusesabagina was depicted as a hero in a Hollywood feature film about the 1994 genocide.

Rusesabagina, 67, who was played by actor Don Cheadle in the film “Hotel Rwanda”, is a vocal critic of Rwandan President Paul Kagame. According to him, he was kidnapped from Dubai this year to be tried. Kagame’s supporters called the trial a sham and proof of his ruthlessness toward political opponents.

Antoine Muhima, the judge who presided over the trial, stated Russabagina was convicted of belonging to a terror group and participating in terror activities, but not of creating an illegal armed group.

A life sentence had been sought for Rusesabagina on nine charges, including terrorism, arson, taking hostages, and forming an armed rebel group. Eight charges were brought against him.

Roussabagina acknowledges the National Liberation Front (FLN) – the armed wing of the Rwanda Movement for Democratic Change (MRCD)- has carried out violence, but denies being responsible.

In addition to him, 20 other defendants were tried with him, including Callixte Nsabimana, popularly known as Sankara, a spokesman for the FLN. Rusesabagina, he said, was not a member of the armed wing. In fact, judges said the two groups were indistinguishable and referred to them as MRCD-FLN. Nsabimana received 20 years in prison.

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