A man who was portrayed in a film as a life-saving hero during the Rwandan Genocide in 1994 has been handed a 25-year sentence by a Rwandan Court.
Paul Rusesabagina was found guilty of forming an armed militia and being part of a terrorist group.
In her ruling, Judge Beatrice Mukamurenzi said the opposition group that Rusesabagina formed was responsible for attacks on civilians in Rwanda that involved killings, lootings, arson and assault.
“They Formed FLN which is an illegal armed group, which attacked Rwanda in 2018 and 2019 and even they bragged about it in different announcements and videos,” Justice Mukamurenzi said.
Rusesabagina 67, was accused of conspiring to launch attacks in south-western Rwanda between 2018 and 2019.
The President of the High court Chamber for International and Cross Boarder Crimes, Antoine Muhima ruled, “Court hereby convicts Rusesabagina to crimes of creating and committing acts of terrorism, and thereby sentences him to 25 years in prison.”
Calixte Nsabimana, one of Rusesabagina’s co accused, was also sentenced to 20 years in Prison for his role in mounting terror attacks on Rwanda among other crimes.
However, Rusesabagina’s family have alleged that he was taken to Rwanda by force. They have also said he did not have a fair hearing.
Rusesabagina’s journey from celebrated figure to a state enemy has happened as his criticism of the government grew.
In a period of 100 days from April 1994, 800,000 people, mostly from the Tutsi ethnic group, were slaughtered.
In the Oscar nominated Movie Hotel Rwanda, Rusesabagina played by Don Cheadle, was shown as hotel manager he managed to protect more than 1000 people who had sought shelter.
But as his profile raised following the release of the film in 2005, his criticism for the post-genocide government and President Paul Kagame gained a wider audience
Living in exile, he went on to lead opposition coalition, which had an armed wing- The National Liberation Front.
The FLN was accused of carrying out attacks in 2018 in which the authorities said nine people were killed.
Rusesabagina’s family have said that he was kidnapped and forcibly taken to Rwanda Last year
But in Court, one witness spoke about how he had tricked Rusesabagina onto a plane in Dubai by telling him it was flying to neighboring Burundi.
Rusesabagina withdrew from the trial in March this year, shortly after it began saying he was not being given a fair hearing.