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Prosecutors appeal 'Hotel Rwanda' hero sentence

Thursday October 21 2021
Paul Rusesabagina.

"Hotel Rwanda" hero Paul Rusesabagina (in the pink inmate's uniform) at the Nyarugenge Court of Justice in Kigali, Rwanda, on September 25, 2020. PHOTO | AFP

By ANGE ILIZA

Rwanda’s public prosecution has appealed against the High Court’s judgment that jailed Paul Rusesabagina, the “Hotel Rwanda” hero, for 25 years.

Rusesabagina and 19 co-accused were convicted and sentenced on September 20 of terrorism and involvement in a rebel group blamed for deadly gun, grenade and arson attacks in Rwanda in 2018 and 2019. At least nine people were killed during the attacks, while others were left injured and property looted or destroyed.

The 67-year-old former hotelier credited for saving over 1,200 lives during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, whose actions inspired the Hollywood film Hotel Rwanda, could face life imprisonment if the prosecution wins the appeal.

The co-accused were sentenced to three to 20 years in prison.

The prosecution, which lodged its appeal on October 20,  had previously expressed dissatisfaction with the “lenient sentences” handed to some convicts saying some charges had been dropped.

By press time, it was unclear whether Rusesabagina, who also had until Wednesday to appeal, had done so. But, Moise Nkundabarashi, a lawyer representing his co-accused Callixte Sankara, confirmed to have filed an appeal on Monday, October 18.

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“We have appealed against the sentence given to my client and some of the accusations,” Mr Nkundabarashi said.

Callixte Nsabimana alias Sankara was convicted for creating a terrorist group and committing acts of terrorism.

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