Prison sentence “commuted” for the opponent and hero of “Hotel Rwanda”

The twenty-five-year prison sentence for “terrorism” of the opponent Paul Rusesabagina, the hero who inspired the film Rwanda Hotel, has been “commuted”, a spokeswoman for the Rwandan government announced on Friday. Paul Rusesabagina’s September 2021 conviction has been “commuted by presidential order”, spokeswoman Yolande Makolo said of the case, which has drawn international and human rights condemnation.

In May 2022, Washington considered that he was “unjustly detained” by Rwandan justice. This news comes less than two weeks after an announcement by President Paul Kagame that “discussions” were underway regarding the imprisonment of Paul Rusesabagina. Supporters of the opponent believe that his trial was a sham marked by irregularities. And his family insisted on the declining state of health of the 68-year-old man.

An opponent of President Kagame

A court had upheld his conviction in May 2022, as well as most of those of his 20 co-defendants who received sentences of three to twenty years in prison. Paul Rusesabagina was made famous by the movie Rwanda Hotel which tells how this moderate Hutu who ran the Hôtel des Mille Collines in the Rwandan capital saved more than 1,000 people during the genocide of the Tutsis in 1994.

Opponent for more than twenty years to Paul Kagame, whom he accused of authoritarianism and of fueling anti-Hutu sentiment, Rusesabagina used his Hollywood fame to give a global echo to his positions. Human rights defenders accuse Rwanda – ruled with an iron fist by Paul Kagame since the end of the 1994 genocide in which 800,000 people were killed – of repressing freedom of expression and the opposition.

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