Appeal Court Rejects Life Imprisonment for ‘Hotel Rwanda’ Hero

Hotel Rwanda: Appeal Court Affirms Rusesabagina's 25-Year Jail Term

A Rwandan appeals court has rejected a request to extend Paul Rusesabagina’s 25-year sentence to life in prison; Rusesabagina was portrayed in the film “Hotel Rwanda” as harbouring hundreds of victims during the 1994 genocide.

Rusesabagina, 67, was convicted of eight terrorism charges in September in connection with the operations of a group hostile to President Paul Kagame’s administration and is currently being imprisoned in a Rwandan jail.

He has rejected all charges and refused to participate in the trial, which he and his supporters have called a political charade.

Rwandan President Paul Kagame AFP PHOTO JOHN MACDOUGALL (JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP/Getty Images)

The Hotel Rwanda hero did not appear in court in Kigali on Monday to hear Judge Emmanuel Kamere’s judgment, which stated that there was no need to extend his sentence.

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“The 25-year sentence is commensurate with the gravity of the offense,” Kamere stated.

Rusesabagina acknowledged leading the Rwanda Movement for Democratic Change (MRCD), but denied responsibility for attacks carried out by the MRCD’s military component, the National Liberation Front (FLN). The two groups were said to be indistinguishable by the trial judges.

Prosecutors said in February that the current sentence was too light, given the seriousness of the charges and the consequences of the alleged offenses.

We believed Rusesabagina’s crimes deserved a life sentence. We’re not content after the appeals court decision, prosecutor Bonaventure Ruberwa told reporters.

Although a government official was not immediately available for comment, Rwanda has previously flatly denied similar charges.

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For his collaboration with police, Rusesabagina’s principal co-accused Callixte Nsabimana, better known as Sankara, got his sentence lowered from 20 to 15 years.

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