Rwanda Prosecutors to Appeal Rusesabagina’s 25-Year Sentence

The Rwandan government announced on Wednesday that it would appeal the 25-year sentence slammed on Paul Rusesabagina, a former hotelier who was portrayed as a hero in a Hollywood film about the 1994 genocide.

Rusesabagina, 67, a vocal critic of President Paul Kagame, had faced a life sentence. He was convicted of terrorism on September 20 after a trial that his supporters called a sham and evidence of Kagame’s ruthless treatment of opponents.

The Prosecutor General’s office did not provide an explanation for the appeal in a tweet.

After the Prosecutor General’s tweet, Russabagina’s daughter Carine Kanimba said that the move showed that the trial of her father was politically motivated.

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“The prosecution’s decision to appeal is Kagame’s decision to hurt us even more than he already has,” she said.

Kanimba also quoted what she said was a statement from Rusesabagina’s legal team that said “25 years is already a life sentence. In appealing and asking for more, the Prosecution is just revealing how political this trial is and always was”.

Rusesabagina had faced nine charges, including terrorism, arson, taking hostages, and forming an armed rebel group. He was convicted of eight of them.

He has acknowledged leading the Rwanda Movement for Democratic Change (MRCD), a group opposed to Kagame’s rule but denied responsibility for violence carried out by its armed wing, the National Liberation Front (FLN).

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In 2004, Rusesabagina became a global celebrity after the film “Hotel Rwanda” showed him risking his life to shelter hundreds while running a luxury hotel in Kigali, Rwanda, during the 100-day genocide which killed more than 800,000 mostly Tutsi.

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