In what can only be described as a major head-scratcher, the man who inspired Hotel Rwanda, the man that would be played by Don Cheadle, the man who would be seen as the hero in the movie, was found guilty of terror-related offenses.
According to the Associated Press, Paul Rusesabagina was convicted of the “formation of an illegal armed group, membership in a terrorist group and financing a terror group. The verdict is still being read out on charges of murder, abduction, and armed robbery as an act of terrorism. He was charged along with 20 other people.”
Rusesabagina didn’t attend Monday’s announcement after calling the trial a sham and claiming that he never expected justice.
The ruling comes more than a year after Rusesabagina disappeared during a visit to Dubai, United Arab Emirates, 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 that he wasn’t kidnapped when he was tricked into boarding a chartered flight. Rwanda’s government has asserted that he was going to Burundi to coordinate with armed groups based there and in Congo.
In case you forgot it was Rusesabagina, who in 1994–during a genocide in Rwanda–saved more than 1,000 people by sheltering them in the hotel he managed.
Rusesabagina was awarded the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom for his heroism during the genocide in Rwanda “has asserted that his arrest was in response to his criticism of longtime Rwandan President Paul Kagame over alleged human rights abuses,” AP reports.
In December some 36 U.S. senators wrote to Kagame, urging him to release Rusesabagina but the request went ignored.
Rusesabagina claims that if anyone was tortured, it was him as he was gagged before he was jailed. Rwandan authorities deny Rusesabagina’s allegations, AP notes..
Rusesabagina’s attorney Felix Rudakemwa claims that Rusesabagina’s legal papers were confiscated by prison authorities and Rusesabagina’s family fears he might die from poor health behind bars.