'Hotel Rwanda' Hero Convicted On Terror Charges
Faizan Hashmi 1 month ago Mon 20th September 2021 | 06:10 PM
Kigali, Sept 20 (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 20th Sep, 2021 ) :Paul Rusesabagina, the "Hotel Rwanda" hero who became a fiercely outspoken government critic, was found guilty of terror charges on Monday after what his supporters labelled a politically motivated show trial.
Rwandan prosecutors have sought a life sentence for Rusesabagina, the 67-year-old former hotelier credited with saving over 1,200 lives during the country's 1994 genocide, and whose actions inspired the Hollywood film.
The 20 other defendants in the case, handcuffed and dressed in pale pink prison uniforms, were brought to the court for the session.
Rusesabagina, who used his fame to denounce Rwandan leader Paul Kagame as a dictator, has been behind bars since his arrest in August 2020 when a plane he believed was bound for Burundi landed instead in Rwanda's capital Kigali.
Earlier this month, Kagame dismissed criticism of the case, saying Rusesabagina was in the dock not because of his fame but over the lives lost "because of his actions".
The United States -- which awarded Rusesabagina its Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005 -- along with the European Parliament and Belgium have been among those to voice concerns about his transfer to Rwanda and the fairness of his trial.
He denied any involvement in the attacks, but was a founder of the Rwandan Movement for Democratic Change (MRCD), an opposition group of which the FLN is seen as the armed wing.
"MRCD-FLN committed terror acts. MRCD cannot be separated from military acts" of FLN, said judge Mukamurenzi.
"The court finds that Rusesabagina's role in founding the FLN, provision of funds to the rebels, purchase of communication tools for the rebels all constitute the crime of committing terrorism." During the trial, his co-defendants gave conflicting testimony about the level of Rusesabagina's involvement with the FLN and its fighters.
- Disillusioned - Rusesabagina was the former manager of the Hotel des Mille Collines in Kigali, where he sheltered hundreds of guests during the genocide that left 800,000 people dead, mostly ethnic Tutsis.
A decade later the American actor Don Cheadle played Rusesabagina, a moderate Hutu, in the Oscar-nominated blockbuster that brought his story to an international audience.
Rusesabagina soon became disillusioned with the new Tutsi-dominated government led by Kagame, the rebel leader-turned president whose forces ended the mass killings.
The Hotel Rwanda Foundation, which supports Rusesabagina, earlier this month described the court proceedings as a "show trial" and said the government had failed to provide any credible evidence against him.
"Paul's family and team knew that he would be declared 'guilty' the moment he was kidnapped -- no trial was needed," it said.