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Man who inspired Hotel Rwanda movie found guilty of terror-related charges

Paul Rusesabagina has maintained his innocence, and his family alleges he was kidnapped and taken to Rwanda against his will.

Rusesabagina pictured inside a courtroom in Kigali, Rwanda 26 February 26 2021.
Rusesabagina pictured inside a courtroom in Kigali, Rwanda 26 February 26 2021.
Image: Alamy Stock Photo

THE MAN WHO inspired the movie Hotel Rwanda has been found guilty of terror-related offences, according to a court in the country.

Paul Rusesabagina boycotted today’s announcement after declaring he did not expect justice in a trial he called a “sham”.

He has been found guilty of the formation of an illegal armed group and membership in a terrorist group.

The ruling comes more than a year after he disappeared during a visit to Dubai and appeared days later in Rwanda in handcuffs, accused of supporting the armed wing of his opposition political platform, Rwandan Movement for Democratic Change.

The group had claimed some responsibility for attacks in 2018 and 2019 in the south of the country in which nine Rwandans died.

Rusesabagina maintained his innocence, and his family alleges he was kidnapped and taken to Rwanda against his will.

But the court ruled that he was not kidnapped when he was tricked into boarding a chartered flight. Rwanda’s government has claimed he was going to Burundi to co-ordinate with armed groups there and in Congo.

Rusesabagina is credited with saving more than 1,000 people by sheltering them at the hotel he managed during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda in which more than 800,000 Tutsi and Hutus who tried to protect them were killed.

don-cheadle-hotel-rwanda-2004 Don Cheadle portrayed Rusesabagina in the 2004 film. Source: Alamy Stock Photo

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u-s-president-george-w-bush-honors-celebrities-and-personalities-including-paul-rusesabagina-who-sheltered-people-at-a-hotel-he-managed-during-the-1994-rwandan-genocide-with-the-presidential-medal-o Rusesabagina recieves the Presidential Medal of Freedom from George W. Bush, 2005. Source: Alamy Stock Photo

The Belgian citizen and US resident, who was awarded the US Presidential Medal of Freedom, has said his arrest was in response to his criticism of long-time Rwandan President Paul Kagame over alleged human rights abuses.

Rusesabagina said he was gagged and tortured before he was jailed, but Rwandan authorities deny it.

His lawyer, Felix Rudakemwa, says Rusesabagina’s legal papers were confiscated by prison authorities.

His family has feared he might die from poor health behind bars.

The trial has drawn international concern. In December, 36 US senators wrote to Kagame, urging him to release Rusesabagina.

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