Kigali, Rwanda | Xinhua | Rwandan High Court Special Chamber for International and Cross-border Crimes in the capital city Kigali, sentenced on Monday Paul Rusesabagina, portrayed as a humanitarian activist in the controversial Oscar-nominated film “Hotel Rwanda”, to 25 years in prison after finding him guilty of terror-related charges.
Rusesabagina, a 67-year-old who was not present in the court at the time of the final verdict was found guilty of being part of a group that conducted raids on Rwanda, claiming lives of civilians, wounding others, and looting properties.
“The court has found Rusesabagina guilty of creating and being a member of a terrorist group that conducted terror attacks on Rwandan soil. He is therefore sentenced to 25 years in prison,” said Judge Antoine Muhima in the final verdict.
Muhima, however, added that Rusesabagina is not guilty of forming an illegal armed group.
Rusesabagina alongside other 20 co-accused people including commander and spokesperson of the group National Liberation Front (FLN) Callixte Nsabimana have been undergoing trial at Rwandan High Court Special Chamber for International and Cross-border Crimes since February this year.
The court also sentenced Nsabimana to 20 years in prison for his role in mounting attacks on Rwanda and denying the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi among other crimes.
According to the court, Rusesabagina was behind a series of attacks against unarmed, innocent Rwandan civilians in the south-western districts of Nyaruguru and Nyamagabe between 2018 and 2019.
Rusesabagina was made well known by the film “Hotel Rwanda” where he was portrayed as a hotel manager who saved over 1,000 lives during the 1994 genocide. However, genocide survivors and experts disputed the authenticity of Rusesabagina’s actual role during the genocide.
Until his arrest in 2020, Rusesabagina had long been living overseas.