Rwanda to free Paul Rusesabagina, man behind Hotel Rwanda, government says

Paul Rusesabagina
FILE – In this Monday, Sept. 14, 2020, file photo, Paul Rusesabagina, center, whose story inspired the film “Hotel Rwanda” for saving people from genocide, appears at the Kicukiro Primary Court in the capital Kigali, Rwanda. As the terrorism trial for Rusesabagina is set to start on Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2021, his family says the critic of longtime Rwandan President Paul Kagame has no chance at a fair trial and might die from poor health behind bars. (AP Photo, File) AP

Rwanda to free Paul Rusesabagina, man behind Hotel Rwanda, government says

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Rwandan authorities will release human rights activist Paul Rusesabagina, whose actions inspired the Hollywood film Hotel Rwanda, a Rwandan government spokeswoman said Friday.

Rusesabagina was sentenced to 25 years in prison on terrorism charges in 2021 but it was commuted by presidential order after a request for clemency and he’s expected to be released on Saturday.

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“Serious crimes were committed, for which they were convicted. Under Rwandan law, commutation of sentence does not extinguish the underlying conviction,” Yolande Makolo, a Rwandan government spokeswoman, said, according to the Washington Post.

In 2020, Rwandan authorities lured him onto an aircraft he thought was heading to Burundi but landed in Kigali, the capital of Rwanda. He was subsequently arrested and convicted on eight charges that include membership in a terrorist group, murder, and abduction, but the circumstances surrounding his arrest drew international attention.

The human rights activist was accused of supporting the armed wing of his opposition political platform, the Rwandan Movement for Democratic Change.

Rusesabagina has said he believes the arrest was in response to his criticism of President Paul Kagame over alleged human rights abuses, which the government has repeatedly denied.

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A State Department spokesperson confirmed to the Washington Examiner that they are aware of the reports but did not comment further.

He protected hundreds of Tutsi guests from Hutu death squads at the hotel he managed during the country’s genocide in 1994, which inspired the movie Hotel Rwanda.

© 2023 Washington Examiner

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