A Feb 17 file photo shows Paul Rusesabagina sitting at the Supreme Court in Kigali during his trial.—AFP
A Feb 17 file photo shows Paul Rusesabagina sitting at the Supreme Court in Kigali during his trial.—AFP

KIGALI: Paul Rusesabagina, the Hotel Rwanda hero who became a fiercely outspoken government critic, was sentenced on Monday to 25 years in prison on terrorism charges after what his supporters labelled a politically motivated show trial.

He was convicted by a high court in Kigali of involvement in a rebel group blamed for deadly gun, grenade and arson attacks in Rwanda in 2018 and 2019.

“He founded a terrorist organisation that attacked Rwanda, he financially contributed to terrorist activities,” Justice Beatrice Mukamurenzi said at the end of a seven-month trial.

Rwandan prosecutors had sought a life sentence for the 67-year-old former hotelier who is credited with saving over 1,200 lives during the country’s 1994 genocide, and whose actions inspired the Hollywood film.

But Mukamurenzi said the penalty “should be reduced to 25 years” as it was his first conviction. Neither Rusesabagina nor his lawyers were in court for the ruling, which his family — who have voiced concerns about his health — warned could see him die in jail.

The 20 co-defendants, who appeared in court handcuffed and wearing pink prison uniforms, were given sentences ranging from three to 20 years.

Rusesabagina, who used his fame to denounce Rwandan leader Paul Kagame as a dictator, has been behind bars since his arrest in August 2020 when a plane he believed was bound for Burundi landed instead in Kigali.

Published in Dawn, September 21st, 2021

Opinion

Civil liberties
23 Oct 2021

Civil liberties

The late I.A. Rehman is esteemed on both sides of the border.
The Hamza factor
Updated 23 Oct 2021

The Hamza factor

A new story is quietly unfolding inside the PML-N and there may yet be a surprise twist.
What should Imran Khan do?
Updated 23 Oct 2021

What should Imran Khan do?

Making a mishmash of religion and politics won’t turn Pakistan into a welfare state. Here’s what can.
Afghan health crises
Updated 22 Oct 2021

Afghan health crises

The condition and prospects of Afghanistan’s health sector are complex and grave.

Editorial

A final push
Updated 23 Oct 2021

A final push

PAKISTAN’S hopes of exiting the so-called FATF grey list have been shattered once again. The global money...
23 Oct 2021

Kabul visit

FOREIGN MINISTER Shah Mahmood Qureshi’s flying visit to Kabul on Thursday is the first official high-level...
23 Oct 2021

Baqir’s blooper

THE remarks made by State Bank governor Reza Baqir at a London press conference have hit a raw nerve in Pakistan. In...
Spate of attacks
Updated 22 Oct 2021

Spate of attacks

Following a near-constant decline since 2016, the year 2021 has witnessed a precipitous rise in violence-related fatalities in KP.
22 Oct 2021

Libel suits

THE outcome of two libel cases recently decided by courts in England should be edifying for the government — if it...
22 Oct 2021

Education losses

A NEW report on the education losses suffered by Pakistani children due to pandemic-induced school closures sheds...