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Hotel Rwanda hero sentenced on terrorism charge

Guards escort Paul Rusesabagina to court in Kigali, Rwanda, in September 2020. Associated Press/Photo by Muhizi Olivier (file)

Hotel Rwanda hero sentenced on terrorism charge

Paul Rusesabagina, 67, disappeared during a visit to Dubai last year. Rusesabagina boarded a charter flight he was told would go to Burundi, where he was meeting a pastor. The flight landed in Kigali, Rwanda, instead, where he has been in police custody with 20 other defendants on terror-related charges. On Monday, a Rwandan court convicted him of forming and financing an illegal armed group and sentenced him to 25 years in prison.

What happened? Rusesabagina gained celebrity status after a 2005 movie told how he saved more than 1,000 people at his hotel during the 1994 genocide. He began criticizing President Paul Kagame for alleged human rights abuses. He founded an opposition platform called Rwandan Movement for Democratic Change, which has an armed wing, National Liberation Front (FLN). FLN claimed responsibility for 2018 and 2019 attacks that killed nine Rwandan citizens. Rusesabagina denied inciting violence but admitted sending FLN money. Government officials claim he was going to Burundi to conspire with other armed groups, but his family says the ruling politicians want to silence him.

Dig deeper: From the WORLD archives, read Andrew Coffin’s review of Hotel Rwanda.

Carolina Lumetta

Carolina is a reporter for WORLD Digital. She is a World Journalism Institute and Wheaton College graduate. She resides in Harrisburg, Pa.



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