“They should be found guilty of being part of this terrorist group – the MRCD-FLN,” Judge Beatrice Mukamurenzi said of 20 defendants including Rusesabagina. “They attacked people in their homes, or even in their cars on the road. “ The case has been high profile since Rusesabagina, 67, was arrested last year on arrival from Dubai after what he described as a kidnapping by Rwandan authorities.
Since being portrayed by actor Don Cheadle as the hero of the 2004 film Rwanda Hotel, Rusesabagina has emerged as a prominent critic of US-based President Paul Kagame. He had denied all the charges against him, while his supporters called the trial a sham and proof of Kagame’s ruthless treatment of political opponents. Rusesabagina boycotted Monday’s hearing.
Prosecutors had requested a life sentence on nine counts, including terrorism, arson, hostage-taking and the formation of an armed rebel group he led from abroad. After the initial verdict was announced, one of the defendants fell ill, causing a short break that delayed verdicts on other charges and sentencing.
Rusesabagina rose to global stardom after the film, which depicted him risking his life to house hundreds as the boss of a luxury hotel in the Rwandan capital Kigali during the 100-day genocide when ethnic Hutu extremists killed over 800,000 people, mainly Tutsis. minority.
Cheadle was nominated for an Oscar for the role. Rusesabagina used his fame to highlight what he described as rights violations by the government of Kagame, a Tutsi rebel commander who seized power after his forces captured Kigali and ended the genocide.
Rusesabagina’s trial began in February, six months after arriving in Kigali on a flight from Dubai. His supporters say he was kidnapped; the Rwandan government suggested that he had been made to board a private plane. Human Rights Watch said at the time that her arrest amounted to enforced disappearance, which it characterized as a serious violation of international law.