Paul Rusesabagina the Rwandan human rights activist has been freed from prison. He worked as the manager of the Hôtel des Mille Collines in Kigali, during a period in which it housed 1,268 Hutu and Tutsi refugees fleeing the Interahamwe militia during the Rwandan genocide. None of these refugees were hurt or killed during the attacks.
He was released on Friday from prison after spending more than 900 days behind bars. He will return to the USA after the Kigali government commuted his 25-year sentence on terrorism charges
An account of Rusesabagina’s actions during the genocide was later depicted in the film Hotel Rwanda in 2004, in which he was portrayed by American actor Don Cheadle. The film has been the subject both of critical acclaim and controversy in Rwanda.
On the back of newly-found international fame, Rusesabagina embarked on a successful career as a public speaker, mostly touring universities in the United States. He campaigns for the Hotel Rwanda Rusesabagina Foundation, which he founded in 2006. He holds Belgian citizenship, and a U.S. green card, and has homes in Brussels, Belgium and San Antonio, Texas. Since fleeing Rwanda in 1996, he has become a prominent critic of Paul Kagame and the RPF government. He founded the PDR-Ihumure political party in 2006, and is currently President of the MRCD.
On 31 August 2020, believing he was taking a chartered flight to Burundi from Dubai, he arrived in Kigali, where he was arrested on nine charges of terrorism that related to his association with the FLN (National Liberation Front), the armed wing of PDR-Ihumure, who claimed responsibility for terrorist attacks in 2018 which killed at least nine people.
On 20 September 2021, he was convicted on terrorism charges and sentenced to 25 years in prison.The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention rendered their opinion on 18 March 2022 that Rusesabagina had been illegally kidnapped, tortured, and sentenced after an unfair trial. The Working Group further found that Rusesabagina has been targeted by the Government on account of his work as a human rights defender, because of his criticism of the Government on a broad range of issues.
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