the opponent and hero of “Hotel Rwanda” released from prison

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The opponent Paul Rusesabagina, hero who inspired the film “Hotel Rwanda”, was released Friday evening, his 25-year prison sentence for “terrorism” having been commuted by presidential order.

Paul Rusesabagina, fierce opponent of President Paul Kagame and hero of the film “Hotel Rwanda”, was released on Friday evening March 24 and handed over to the Qatari ambassador before his return to the United States, announced an American official.

The opponent, who has Belgian citizenship and resides permanently in the United States, “is at the residence of the Qatari ambassador”, the official said. Washington is “grateful” to Rwanda for having freed him, said the head of American diplomacy, Antony Blinken.

Paul Rusesabagina’s 25-year prison sentence for “terrorism” had been “commuted by presidential order” earlier in the day, spokeswoman Yolande Makolo announced in the case, which has drawn international and defender condemnation. human rights.

Paul Rusesabagina will now be able to go to Qatar and then to the United States. “The procedure for his transfer to Qatar is underway,” said a spokesman for the Qatari Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Friday afternoon. “He will then go to the United States,” he added, the day after a visit by President Paul Kagame to Doha.

This news comes less than two weeks after an announcement by President Paul Kagame that “discussions” were underway regarding the opponent’s imprisonment.

Supporters of Paul Rusesabagina believe that his trial was a sham marked by irregularities. And his family insisted on the declining state of health of the 68-year-old man.

Opposing Paul Kagame for over 20 years

A court had upheld his conviction in May 2022, as well as most of those of his 20 co-defendants, who received sentences of three to 20 years in prison.

Paul Rusesabagina was made famous by the film “Hotel Rwanda” which tells how this moderate Hutu who ran the Hotel des Mille Collines in the Rwandan capital saved more than 1,000 people during the genocide of the Tutsi in 1994.

Opponent for more than 20 years to Paul Kagame, whom he has accused of authoritarianism and of fueling anti-Hutu sentiment, Paul Rusesabagina has used his Hollywood fame to give a global echo to his positions.

Human rights defenders accuse Rwanda – ruled with an iron fist by Paul Kagame since the end of the 1994 genocide in which 800,000 people were killed – of suppressing freedom of expression and the opposition.

With AFP

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