Paul Rusesabagina – the man who was portrayed as a life-saving hero in a film during the Rwandan genocide has been sentenced to 25 years for terrorism by a court in Rwanda.
The 67-year-old was found guilty of supporting a rebel group responsible for the deadly attacks in 2018 and 2019.
According to the hero’s family, the trial was a sham. They said he was taken to Rwanda from exile forcefully.
Paul was a resident in the US – the country was concerned by the conviction.
Just as his criticism against the government grew, he became a state enemy from a celebrated figure.
In the beginning, Paul was addressed for his acts during the genocide 27 years ago.
Don Cheadle played the role of Paul Rusesabagina in the Oscar-nominated movie Hotel Rwanda.
Here he was depicted as a hotel manager who managed to protect more than 1,000 people who had sought shelter.
From April 1994 that is in 100 days – 800,000 people mostly from the Tutsi ethnic group, were killed by extremists from the Hutu community.
However, some survivors were questioned about their version of the events in the 2005 film.
But as Paul’s profile was elevated after its release, his disapproval of the post-genocide government and President Paul Kagame gained a widespread audience.
He spoke about human rights exploitations and suspected that the government was targeting Hutus.
Rights groups have accused the governing Rwandan Patriotic Front of harassing and arresting opponents. Arbitrary detention, ill-treatment, and torture are “commonplace”, Human Rights Watch says.
Living in exile, Rusesabagina went on to lead an opposition coalition, which had an armed wing – the National Liberation Front (FLN).
In a 2018 video message, he called for regime change saying that “the time has come for us to use any means possible to bring about change in Rwanda”.