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News > World

Rwandan Court Sentences Genocide Sponsor to 25 Years

  • Paul Rusesabagina (R), 2020.

    Paul Rusesabagina (R), 2020. | Photo: Twitter/ @lalibrebe

Published 20 September 2021
Opinion

Portrayed by Hollywood as the Hotel Rwanda movie's heroe, Paul Rusesabagina was found guilty of terrorism, murder, kidnapping, and armed robbery.

On Monday, the High Court of International and Cross-Border Crimes sentenced Paul Rusesabagina to 25 years in prison. He was accused of financing the armed wing of the Rwanda Movement for Democratic Change (MRCD), the National Liberation Front (FLN), which carried out a genocide in 1994.

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"We ruled that his role in the creation of the FLN and his provision of funds… constitute crimes of terrorism. Therefore, we declare him guilty of the crime of terrorism," Judge Beatrice Mukamurenzi said when reading a verdict in which he was also charged with murder, kidnapping, and armed robbery.

Rusesabagina was found guilty "in absentia" in a trial in which he was being processed along with 20 FLN members, among whom is Callixte Nsabimana, who was sentenced to twenty years in prison.

Rusesabagina was manager of the “Thousand Hills Hotel” in the Rwandan capital, where Hollywood claims he was a humanitarian hero who saved Tutsis and moderate Hutus from extremist Hutus during the 1994 genocide.

In August 2020, he was arrested at Kigali International Airport, an arrest that his defense attorneys presented as "kidnapping." Rusesabagina stopped appearing in court in March arguing that he would not get a fair trial.

Before being arrested, he became an opponent of President Paul Kagame and was living in exile between Belgium and the United States.

On April 6, 1994, Rwanda President Juvenal Habyarimana and Burundi's President Cyprien Ntaryamira died after their plane was shot down. The Rwandan government accused the Tutsi rebels of Kagame's Rwandan Patriotic Front of the murder. In the 100 days following that event, some 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were hunted down and killed.

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