KIGALI, July 22 — A court in Rwanda said today it will issue its verdict next month against detained “Hotel Rwanda” activist turned government critic Paul Rusesabagina, who is charged with terrorism in a trial denounced as political by his supporters.
Prosecutors last month sought a sentence of life in prison against Rusesabagina, who inspired the Hollywood film over his actions during the 1994 genocide that saved the lives of about 1,000 people.
Judge Antoine Muhima said the verdict in the trial against Rusesabagina and 20 other accused, which opened in February, would be delivered on August 20.
The former manager of Kigali’s Hotel des Mille Collines was portrayed by Don Cheadle in the 2004 film that told how he sheltered people during the genocide in which an estimated 800,000 died, most of them ethnic Tutsis.
Rusesabagina subsequently became a prominent and outspoken critic of President Paul Kagame. He has lived in exile in the US and Belgium since 1996.
The 67-year-old was arrested in August when a plane he believed was bound for Burundi landed in Kigali instead, a move his supporters describe as a kidnapping. He faces nine charges, including terrorism.
Kagame’s government accuses him of supporting the National Liberation Front (FLN) rebel group which is blamed for attacks in 2018 and 2019 that killed nine people.
Rusesabagina has denied any involvement in the attacks, but was a founder of the Rwandan Movement for Democratic Change (MRCD), an opposition group of which the FLN is seen as the armed wing.
The announcement of the verdict date came just days after a media investigation claimed that Rusesabagina’s daughter was spied on using Pegasus malware developed by Israeli company NSO.
Carine Kanimba, a US-Belgian dual national, has played a key role in efforts to free Rusesabagina. — AFP