Montreal Gazette

HOTEL FILM HERO GUILTY OF TERRORISM, SENTENCED TO 25 YEARS IN PRISON

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A Rwandan court on Monday sentenced Paul Rusesabagi­na, a one-time hotel manager portrayed as a hero in a Hollywood film about the 1994 genocide, to 25 years in prison after he was convicted of terrorism charges.

Rusesabagi­na, 67, who was feted around the world after being portrayed by actor Don Cheadle in the film “Hotel Rwanda,” is a vocal critic of President Paul Kagame. He denied all charges and said he was kidnapped from Dubai this year to be put on trial. His supporters called the trial a sham.

“Rusesabagi­na ... is convicted of being a member of a terror group and participat­ing in terror activities but he is acquitted of creating an illegal armed group,” judge Antoine Muhima said.

Prosecutor­s had sought a life sentence for Rusesabagi­na on nine charges, including terrorism, arson, taking hostages and forming an armed rebel group. He was convicted of eight charges.

Rusesabagi­na has acknowledg­ed having a leadership role in the Rwanda Movement for Democratic Change (MRCD), a group opposed to Kagame's rule, but denied responsibi­lity for violence carried out by its armed wing, the National Liberation Front (FLN).

Twenty other defendants tried with him included Callixte Nsabimana, popularly known as Sankara, a spokesman for the FLN. He told the court Rusesabagi­na was not a member of the armed wing. But judges said the two groups were indistingu­ishable, referring to them as the MRCD-FLN. Nsabimana received 20 years.

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