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Senin, 20 September 2021

Paul Rusesabagina, the hotel manager who sheltered people during a genocide and inspired the film Hotel Rwanda convicted of terror charges - ABC News

A court in Rwanda says the man who inspired the movie Hotel Rwanda, Paul Rusesabagina, has been found guilty of terror-related offences.

Rusesabagina boycotted Monday's announcement after declaring he didn't expect justice in a trial he called a "sham".

Rusesabagina has refused to take part in the trial and has not appeared in court in months, after attending the first few hearings in a bright pink prison uniform, face mask and handcuffs.

He has so far been convicted of the formation of an illegal armed group, membership in a terrorist group and financing a terror group.

Verdicts are still to come on charges of murder, abduction, and armed robbery as an act of terrorism. He was charged along with 20 other people.

"They should be found guilty for being part of this terror group – MRCD-FLN," judge Beatrice Mukamurenzi said of the 20 defendants including Rusesabagina.

"They attacked people in their homes, or even in their cars on the road travelling."

Prosecutors want life sentence

A man in a pink shirt and shorts sits in a courtroom and gestures as he talks with a lawyer who is wearing black robes.
Rwanda's government says Rusesabagina was trying to go to Burundi to coordinate with armed groups.(

AP: Muhizi Olivier/File

)

The ruling comes more than a year after Rusesabagina 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 has maintained his innocence, and his family alleges he was kidnapped and taken to Rwanda against his will.

But the court ruled he wasn't kidnapped when he was tricked into boarding a chartered flight.

Rwanda's government has asserted he was going to Burundi to coordinate with armed groups based there and in Congo.

Since being portrayed by actor Don Cheadle as the hero of the 2004 film Hotel Rwanda, Rusesabagina has emerged as a prominent critic of President Paul Kagame.

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Rusesabagina became a global celebrity after the film, which depicted him risking his life to shelter hundreds as the boss of a luxury hotel in the Rwandan capital of Kigali during the 100-day genocide when Hutu ethnic extremists killed more than 800,000 people, mostly from the Tutsi minority.

He had denied all the charges against him, while his supporters called the trial a sham and proof of Mr Kagame's ruthless treatment of political opponents.

Prosecutors had sought a life sentence on nine charges, including terrorism, arson, taking hostages and forming an armed rebel group which he directed from abroad.

Trial draws international concern

Paul Rusesabagina (left) is presented the Presidential Medal of Freedom by then-US president George W Bush.
George W Bush presents the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Rusesabagina.(

Reuters: Jason Reed

)

Rusesabagina, a Belgian citizen and US resident who was awarded the US Presidential Medal of Freedom, has asserted that his arrest was in response to his criticism of Mr Kagame over alleged human rights abuses.

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

His attorney, Felix Rudakemwa, said Rusesabagina's legal papers were confiscated by prison authorities.

His family fears he might die from poor health behind bars.

Rwanda has said Rusesabagina would get a fair trial, but the trial has drawn international concern.

In December, 36 US senators wrote to Mr Kagame, urging him to release Rusesabagina.

ABC/Wires

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2021-09-20 13:37:44Z
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