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Rwandan court finds ‘Hotel Rwanda’ film hero guilty in terrorism case By Reuters


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Paul Rusesabagina, the man who was hailed a hero in a Hollywood movie about the country’s 1994 genocide is detained and paraded in front of media in handcuffs at the headquarters of Rwanda Investigation Bureau in Kigali, Rwanda August 31, 2020

By Clement Uwiringiyimana

KIGALI (Reuters) -A Rwandan court on Monday found Paul Rusesabagina, a one-time hotel manager portrayed as a hero in a Hollywood film about the 1994 genocide, guilty of being part of a group responsible for terrorist attacks.

Beatrice Mukamurenzi, a judge said that Rusesabagina and 20 others should be convicted for their participation in the terror group MRCDFLN. “They attacked people at their homes or their cars while they were on the road.”

Since Rusesabagina (67), was taken into custody in Dubai last year after he claimed that he had been kidnapped by Rwandan authorities, the case has received a lot of attention.

Rusesabagina, who was portrayed in “Hotel Rwanda” (2004) by Don Cheadle, became a well-known critic of US President Paul Kagame. While he denied the allegations against him, his supporters called it a sham. They said that the trial was proof of Kagame’s brutal treatment of political opponents.

The nine charges against him include terrorism, arson and taking hostages. He also sought to be sentenced to life for forming an armed rebel organization that he commanded from overseas. One of the accused fell ill shortly after the release of the original verdict. This caused a brief recess that delayed sentencing and verdicts for the other charges.

Rusesabagina was made a worldwide celebrity by the movie, in which he risked his life for the safety of hundreds to run a luxurious hotel in Kigali, Rwanda, during the 100-day genocide, when Hutu ethnic extremists massacred more than 800,000. Most Tutsi people.

Cheadle received an Oscar nomination for his role. Rusesabagina used the fame of the role to point out the rights violations made by Kagame, the Tutsi rebel commander. Kagame took power in Kigali after his forces had captured it and ended the genocide.

Rusesabagina arrived in Kigali six months ago on a Dubai-bound flight. In February Rusesabagina began his trial. According to his supporters, he was abducted and the Rwandan government suggests that he was tricked into board a private aircraft. Human Rights Watch stated at that time that the arrest was an act of enforced disappearance. This it considered a grave violation international law.

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