Paul Rusesabagina, the hero of “Hotel Rwanda” who became a harsh government critic, was found guilty of terrorist charges on Monday after a politically motivated show trial.
He was convicted of supporting a rebel group that In 2018 and 2019 he was blamed for deadly gun, grenade and arson attacks in Rwanda.
“He founded a terrorist organization that attacked Rwanda, he contributed financially to terrorist activities,” said Judge Beatrice Mukamurenzi the end of a seven-month trial.
Rwandan prosecutors have requested life imprisonment for Rusesabagina, the 67-year-old former hotelier who is credited with saving hundreds of lives during the 1994 Tutsi genocide Acts inspired the Hollywood movie.
Neither he nor his lawyers were in court on the verdict, even though the 20 other defendants in the case were present.
Rusesabagina was arrested in August 2020 when a plane he believed was going to Burundi landed in the Rwandan capital Kig ali instead.
His family say Rusesabagina was hijacked and have dismissed the nine charges against him as revenge by a vengeful government for his outspoken views.
Earlier this month, President Paul Kagame dismissed his criticism of the case, saying that Rusesabagina was because of “him Acts of “lost lives in the dock.
The trial started in February, but the Belgian national and the US green card holder boycotted him from March, accusing the court of” injustice and lack of independence “. < / p>
The United States, which awarded Rusesabagina the President’s Medal of Freedom in 2005, along with the European Parliament and Belgium, were among those who voiced concerns about his transfer Rwanda and the fairness of its trial.
Rusesabagina was the former director of the Hotel des Mille Collines in Kigali, where he hosted hundreds of guests during the genocide against the Tutsi. < / p>
A decade later, American actor Don Cheadle played Ruseabagina in the Oscar-nominated blockbuster, who introduced his story to an international audience.
Rusesabagina soon became disillusioned with the new government under Kagame. In 1996 he left Rwanda and lived in Belgium and then in the United States.
Abroad, he developed close relationships with opposition groups in exile.
Kagame’s government accused Rusesabagina of national liberation support Front (FLN), a rebel group held responsible for the attacks in 2018 and 2019, in which nine people were killed.
Rusesabagina denied any involvement in the attacks, but was the founder of the Rwanda Movement for Democratic Change (MRCD). , an opposition group whose armed wing is the FLN.
“MRCD-FLN has committed terrorist attacks. MRCD cannot be separated from military acts “from FLN, said Judge Mukamurenzi.
Prosecutors said in June that Rusesabagina” encouraged and authorized the fighters to commit these acts of terrorism “.
But his co-defendants made conflicting statements about the extent of Rusesabagina’s involvement in the FLN and its fighters.
His family, who campaigned for his release around the world, say Rusesabagina is a political prisoner and blames them The Rwandan authorities have tortured him in custody.
The Hotel Rwanda Foundation, which supports Rusesabagina, said in a statement earlier this month that it was a “show trial” and that the government had no credible evidence against it. submitted he.