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Found Guilty Of “Terrorism, Paul Rusesabagina (Hotel Rwanda) Is Sentenced 25 Years Imprisonment

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Paul Rusesabagina, known to the world through the film by Terry George, founded a terrorist organization and helped finance its actions on Rwandan soil. He has been on trial since February and has been boycotting his trial because of his concerns about the fairness of the proceedings. Finally, the Kigali court of justice sentenced Paul Rusesabagina to 25 years in prison, ruling on Monday 20 September that the former manager of the Mille Collines hotel was guilty of “terrorism”, at the end of a trial which took place from February to July in the Rwandan capital.

He faced nine charges, including terrorism, arson, kidnapping and murder, acts committed in attacks conducted in Rwanda in 2018 by the National Liberation Front (FLN), the armed wing of the Rwandan Movement for Democratic Change (MRCD), of which he was one of the founders in 2017. “He founded a terrorist organization, he contributed financially to terrorist activities,” ruled Judge Beatrice Mukamurenzi.

Paul Rusesabagina
Paul Rusesabagina

The beautiful image of a man of peace cracked little by little. First, survivors of the Mille Collines painted a less flattering picture of Paul Rusesabagina. Above all, from Belgium, where he settled and where he obtained Belgian nationality, he became one of the most critical voices of the Rwandan diaspora against Paul Kagame, accusing him of serious human rights violations.

In 2006, he created his own political party, the PDR-Ihumure. Then his discourse gradually became more radical, especially after the amendment of the constitution that allowed Paul Kagame to run and win a third consecutive term in 2017.

Was his trial fair?

Those who defend him say not. That is why he and his lawyers have boycotted the hearings since March. They accuse Rwanda of kidnapping him while he was traveling in Dubai on August 27, 2020. The Rwandan government has admitted to “facilitating the trip” to Kigali, but claimed that the arrest was “legal” and that “his rights were never violated.

Hotel Rwanda

However, several human rights NGOs have expressed doubts and reservations about his arrest and the fairness of his trial. “The authorities must tell the whole truth about the circumstances of his arrest and what really happened between Thursday, August 27, when he spoke to his family after arriving in Dubai, and Monday, August 31, when he was paraded in front of cameras in Kigali. Assuming that he was in detention during this time and that the Rwandan authorities withheld information about his whereabouts, this amounts to an enforced disappearance,” said Amnesty International. The European Parliament and Belgium have also expressed concerns about the conditions of his arrest and the fairness of the procedure.

But for Rwandan President Paul Kagame, Paul Rusesabagina was on trial for “the lives of Rwandans lost because of his actions and because of the organizations to which he belonged or which he led. “It has nothing to do with the film (…) with his celebrity status,” he said, assuring that he would be “tried as fairly as possible.

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