'Hotel Rwanda' hero convicted on terror charges

September 20, 2021
Paul Rusesabagina became a global celebrity after the 2004 film
Paul Rusesabagina became a global celebrity after the 2004 film "Hotel Rwanda" depicted him risking his life to shelter hundreds as the boss of a luxury hotel in the Rwandan capital Kigali.

KIGALI -- A man who was portrayed in a film as a life-saving hero during the Rwandan genocide has been convicted of terrorism by a court in Rwanda, BBC reported.

Paul Rusesabagina was found guilty of backing a rebel group from exile which killed civilians in attacks in 2018.

His family have alleged that he was taken to Rwanda by force. They have also said he did not have a fair trial.

Rusesabagina's journey from celebrated figure to state enemy 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 how as hotel manager he managed to protect more than 1,000 people who had sought shelter.

But as his profile was raised following the release of the film in 2005, his criticism of the post-genocide government and President Paul Kagame gained a wider audience.

Living in exile, he went on to lead an opposition coalition, which had an armed wing - the National Liberation Front (FLN).

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.

He withdrew from the trial in March this year, shortly after it began, saying that he was not being given a fair hearing. -- Agencies

September 20, 2021
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