Rusesabagina arrives in Qatar after release from Rwandan jail

Tuesday March 28 2023
Rwanda opposition figure Paul Rusesabagina

Rwanda opposition figure Paul Rusesabagina whom diplomats say arrived in Doha, Qatar on March 27, 2023 following his release from jail on Friday last week. PHOTO | FILE | AFP



Rwanda opposition figure Paul Rusesabagina, who inspired a Hollywood movie on the country's 1994 genocide against the Tutsi, arrived in Qatar on Monday, three days after being released from prison, diplomats said.

The 68-year-old, whose 25-year jail term was commuted by President Paul Kagame, was to undergo medical checks and rest before flying to the United States on Wednesday, the diplomats told AFP.

"He needs care but will fly on to the US on Wednesday," said one Doha-based diplomat following the case.

Rusesabagina was released late Friday after 938 days in prison under an accord, mediated by Qatar, between the US government and Rwanda.

Fragile health


Reportedly in fragile health, Rusesabagina stayed at the Qatar ambassador's residence in Kigali before flying to Doha. Qatar authorities did not immediately confirm his arrival in the Gulf state.

Rusesabagina was a hotel manager who helped save hundreds of lives during the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi. His story was turned into "Hotel Rwanda" featuring Don Cheadle.

But Rusesabagina became a fierce critic of Rwanda's longstanding leader Kagame and formed his own political party.

He left Rwanda in 1996 for Belgium but his family said he was tricked into taking a flight in 2020 that was diverted to Kigali. 

Rusesabagina was convicted in September 2021 of backing an armed rebel group after a trial that his supporters denounced as a sham.


He was tortured whilst in detention, according to his family.

Talks on a release started at the end of 2022 and final details were hammered out last week when Kagame met Qatar's emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, in Doha, a source with knowledge of the negotiations said.

In an October 2022 letter released by the government on Friday, Rusesabagina pledged to leave "Rwandan politics behind me" and spend the rest of his life in the United States in exchange for clemency.