Africa

JUST IN: Hotel Rwanda hero sentenced to 25 years in prison

A Rwandan court has sentenced Paul Rusesabagina, a one-time hotel manager portrayed as a hero in a Hollywood film about the 1994 genocide, to 25 years in prison after he was found guilty of terror-related charges.

“Rusesabagina is guilty of being a member of a terror group and participating in terror activities,” judge Beatrice Mukamurenzi said in the sentence delivered on  Monday adding,  “his act of terrorism led to death.”

Earlier, Reuters reported that he had been found guilty of terrorism charges.

Rusesabagina, 67, who was feted around the world after being portrayed by actor Don Cheadle in the film “Hotel Rwanda”, is a vocal critic of President Paul Kagame. He denied all charges and said he was kidnapped from Dubai this year to be put on trial. His supporters called the trial a sham, and proof of Kagame’s ruthless treatment of political opponents.

Prosecutors had sought a life sentence for Rusesabagina on nine charges, including terrorism, arson, taking hostages and forming an armed rebel group. He was convicted of eight charges.

Rusesabagina has acknowledged having a leadership role in the Rwanda Movement for Democratic Change (MRCD), a group opposed to Kagame’s rule, but denied responsibility for violence carried out by its armed wing, the National Liberation Front (FLN).

Twenty other defendants tried with him included Callixte Nsabimana, popularly known as Sankara, a spokesman for the FLN. He told the court Rusesabagina was not a member of the armed wing. But judges said the two groups were indistinguishable, referring to them as the MRCD-FLN. Nsabimana received 20 years.

 

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