A court in Rwanda has found “Hotel Rwanda” hero Paul Rusesabagina guilty of terrorism and sentenced him to 25 years in prison.
Rusesabagina had financially and logistically supported the armed wing of an opposition movement he co-founded, the court said during the verdict in Kigali.
This armed wing, the National Liberation Front (FLN), was responsible for deadly attacks in Rwanda in 2018 and 2019, it said. Rusesabagina was not present during the sentencing.
1200 people saved
Rusesabagina became known through the Hollywood film “Hotel Rwanda”, which tells its story: In 1994, more than 800,000 people died within a few weeks during the genocide in Rwanda. Most of the victims belonged to the Tutsi minority, but Hutus were also killed by representatives of the Hutu majority.
Rusesabagina, now 67 years old, was in charge of the luxury hotel “Hotel des Mille Collines” in Kigali. There he gave refuge to more than 1200 people and thus saved their lives. He later became a sharp critic of the incumbent Rwandan President Paul Kagame and went into exile in Belgium.
According to his lawyer, he was kidnapped by the Rwandan authorities in Dubai in order to be brought to justice. The European Parliament, US congressmen and human rights activists have heavily criticized the type of arrest and the conditions of detention.
The Clooney Foundation for Justice, a foundation run by actor George Clooney and his wife, lawyer Amal, called the trial a “show trial.” The sentence would be tantamount to a death sentence, according to a statement from the foundation, which had legally followed the entire process.