From Hero of ‘Hotel Rwanda,’ to Dissident, to 25-Year Prison Sentence

From Hero of ‘Hotel Rwanda,’ to Dissident, to 25-Year Prison Sentence

Geoffrey Robertson, who was monitoring the trial for the Clooney Foundation for Justice, said, “This was a show trial, rather than a fair judicial inquiry.”At the heart of Rwanda’s case against Mr. Rusesabagina was his leadership role in the Rwanda Movement for Democratic Change, a coalition of opposition groups in exile whose armed wing, the National Liberation Front (known by the initials F.L.N.), is accused of being responsible for attacks inside Rwanda that killed nine people in 2018. Prosecutors described the 20 other defendants as fighters involved in those attacks.Yolande Makolo, a spokeswoman for the Rwandan government, said in a statement: “This lengthy trial has exposed the terrorist activities of the F.L.N. group led by Rusesabagina. The evidence against the accused was indisputable, and the people of Rwanda will feel safer now justice has been delivered. The trial has been a long and painful ordeal for the victims.”Some of Mr. Rusesabagina’s co-defendants recanted their testimony against him, saying that he had never belonged to a rebel group or ordered attacks. Among them was Callixte Nsabimana, the armed group’s former spokesman, who was found guilty on Monday of genocide denial and of forging documents, and was sentenced to 20 years in prison.Mr. Rusesabagina had been living in Texas last year when he was deceived by Rwandan government operatives into getting on a plane in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, that took him to Kigali. He says he was initially denied access to attorneys of his choosing, held in solitary confinement and tortured in a secret detention center.He and his lawyers say that his rights to confidential communication and to prepare his defense have been repeatedly violated. The governments of Belgium, where Mr. Rusesabagina is a citizen, and the United States, where he is a permanent resident, criticized the trial process in statements on Monday, saying it raised questions about the outcome. “Mr. Rusesabagina did not receive a fair and due trial,” said Sophie Wilmès, Belgium’s foreign minister. “The presumption of innocence was not respected either.”

From Hero of ‘Hotel Rwanda,’ to Dissident, to 25-Year Prison Sentence

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