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'Hotel Rwanda' hero Rusesabagina found guilty of terror charges

Saul Butera, Bloomberg News on

Published in News & Features

A Rwandan court found Paul Rusesabagina, an outspoken critic of the East African nation’s government who gained international fame through the 2004 film "Hotel Rwanda," guilty of terrorism charges.

The High Court Special Chamber for International and Cross-Border Crimes convicted Rusesabagina Monday at a hearing in the capital, Kigali. Sentencing will be handed down later, Judge Beatrice Mukamurenzi said.

The court found that Rusesabagina founded a terrorist organization that attacked Rwanda, Mukamurenzi said. Rusesabagina financially contributed to group’s activities, she said.

Rusesabagina, 67, has been detained since August 2020, when he “disappeared” after boarding a GainJet Aviation SA flight for what he believed was a speaking engagement in Burundi, according to a complaint filed Monday in San Antonio federal court. Instead, he was flown to neighboring Rwanda, where he was arrested on arrival in Kigali and is being held in Nyarugenge prison.

 

Rusesabagina was portrayed as a hero in the Oscar-nominated 2004 movie ‘Hotel Rwanda’ for helping shelter more than 1,200 people from machete-wielding gangs during the 1994 genocide that left at least 800,000 people dead. His family has lived in exile in central Texas for several years after fleeing Belgium, where he holds citizenship. He has repeatedly criticized Rwandan President Paul Kagame for political repression and extensive human-rights abuses.

Rusesabagina, who denied wrongdoing, was tried with several accomplices. They were charged with nine counts, including forming an illegal armed group, financing terror activities, murder as an act of terror, kidnap as an act of terror, and arson as an act of terror.

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