Rwanda: Court refuses to extend ‘Hotel Rwanda’ Hero 25-year sentence to life in prison

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Rwanda’s Court of Appeal on Monday upheld a 25-year prison term against “Hotel Rwanda” hero Paul Rusesabagina, who was convicted last year on charges of “terrorism”, rejecting a prosecution appeal to increase the penalty to life.

“Since he is a first-time offender, the court finds that his sentence should not be increased, because the 25 years he was given is in accordance with the weight of his crimes, and the court maintains his sentence,” said Judge Francois Regis Rukundakuvuga.

Paul Rusesabagina was convicted in September on eight terrorism charges for his role in a group opposing President Paul Kagame.

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Rusesabagina said that he was a leader in the Rwanda Movement for Democratic Change but had no role in the group’s armed wing, the National Liberation Front, which has carried out attacks.
He refused to take part in the September trial, calling it a sham, and was not present at Monday’s ruling.
Prosecutors called the 25-year sentence too lenient.

His family has lobbied for his release, saying he is ill.
Rusesabagina saved around 1,200 people by sheltering them in a hotel during the country’s 1994 genocide, which saw over 800,000 killed. Rusesabagina worked as the manager of the Hotel des Mille Collines in Kigali and helped shelter Hutu and Tutsi refugees there during the genocide

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