Court to hear appeal against ‘Hotel Rwanda’ hero's prison sentence

Monday January 17 2022
Paul Rusesabagina

‘Hotel Rwanda’ hero Paul Rusesabagina is escorted by police officers after his pre-trial court session on September 20, 2021. PHOTO | AFP

By Johnson Kanamugire

A court in Kigali will begin hearing the case of ‘Hotel Rwanda’ hero Paul Rusesabagina on Monday after prosecutors appealed against his 25-year prison sentence, saying it was “lenient”.

The prosecution appealed against a September 20, 2021 that found Rusesabagina guilty of eight charges following a seven-month long trial.

Rusesabagina faced nine charges, including terrorism, murder, arson, abduction and forming an armed rebel group.

The crimes are linked to activities of the coalition of an exiled opposition group Rusesabagina formed dubbed MRCD and its armed outfit FLN, which is linked to the deadly 2018 and 2019 attacks in southern and western Rwanda.

Prosecutors had sought a life sentence for the 67-year-old Rwandan native who also holds Belgium citizenship and US permanent residence.

His family and supporters rejected the case as politically motivated, and did not appeal the verdict.


Rusesabagina and his legal counsel boycotted the trial after he indicated he expected no justice from the court.

He protested the court’s refusal to allow him six months to prepare his defence and be represented by his Belgian lawyer.

Rusesabagina, a former hotelier-turned-political activist, rose to fame after a 2004 Hollywood movie, Hotel Rwanda, that depicted his heroic acts in saving Tutsis during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

Callixte Nsabimana, aka, Sankara, one of his 20 co-accused who is former spokesperson and commander of the FLN rebels, was handed 20 years in prison, alongside seven other convicts.

They were found guilty of crimes, including being members of a terror group, committing terror acts, mobilisation and illegal use of explosives.

Other convicts were handed three to 10-year jail terms.