Appeal in ‘Hotel Rwanda’ hero case to proceed in Rusesabagina’s absence

Wednesday January 19 2022
Paul Rusesabagina.

Paul Rusesabagina at the Remera Metropolitan Police Station in Kigali, Rwanda, on September 3, 2020. PHOTO | COURTESY

By Johnson Kanamugire

A Kigali court on Tuesday ruled that it will proceed with the appeals hearing in the case of ‘Hotel Rwanda’ hero Paul Rusesabagina after concluding that legal steps were taken to summon him without success.

He was not present or represented on January 17 when the court was due to start hearing an appeal filed by the prosecution and other parties in the case where Rusesabagina was convicted and sentenced to 25 years in prison for terror.

The court scheduled the appeal hearing to proceed on January 20 after concluding that Rusesabagina was duly summoned but chose not to appear without a valid reason. 

Rusesabagina was convicted alongside 20 co-accused who were handed sentences ranging from 20 to three years for belonging to terror groups linked to the deadly 2018 and 2019 attacks in southern and western Rwanda.

The prosecution appealed after expressing dissatisfaction with “lenient sentences” handed to some convicts in the September 20, 2021 verdict.

Some of the convicts appealed to the court to lower the penalties, while the civil parties urged the court to grant more damages for the harm they suffered.


Rusesabagina, 67, who is a former hotelier, is credited with saving more than 1,200 lives during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in 1994. He rose to fame after a 2004 Hollywood movie, Hotel Rwanda, depicted his heroic acts.

Rusesabagina and his legal counsel have, since March 2021, boycotted the trial for terror-related charges after he indicated that he expected no justice from the court.