Rwandan prosecutor seeks life for controversial hero of ‘Hotel Rwanda’ movie

A Rwandan prosecutor on Thursday requested life in prison for Pal Rusesabagina, a controversial hero who allegedly saved 1200 people…

A Rwandan prosecutor on Thursday requested life in prison for Pal Rusesabagina, a controversial hero who allegedly saved 1200 people from genocide in events depicted in the Oscar-nominated movie “Hotel Rwanda” currently facing terrorism
related charges.Rusesabagina is also the founding President of MRCD-FLN, the terror group that killed Rwandan civilians in a series of attacks it carried out in different parts of Southern Rwanda between 2018 and 2019.

The defendant is especially charged with 9 counts, including forming an illegal armed group, financing terror activities, murder as an act of terror, kidnap as an act of terror, arson as an act of terror, among others.

While closing arguments on Thursday, Rwandan Prosecution stressed that as a leader and financier of the FLN, Rusesabagina is hugely responsible for the terror activities of the group.

The prosecutors told court that there is evidence that he was financing the group, basing on among others: information accessed from his computer and personal mobile phone, and more sources.

Prosecutors added that there shouldn’t be any mitigating circumstances when penalizing him, since he didn’t admit to the crimes during his defense.

The defense is scheduled to make its closing arguments beginning next week, before the court decides the verdict and sentence.

Since he fled the country shortly after the genocide in 1994, the former hotel manager became a fierce critic of the Rwandan government.

While in exile, he founded the Rwandan Movement for Democratic Change (MRCD). Born in June 1954 in Ruhango, a rural district in southern Rwanda, where attended primary and secondary schools in neighbouring Gitwe, Rusesabagina moved to Kigali where he got employed at ‘Hotel des Diplomates’ before being promoted to the position of manager until the
genocide was sparked by the death of then President Juvenal Habyarimana, a Hutu, when his plane was shot down above Kigali airport on 6 April 1994.

The then Belgian airline Sabena owned another hotel des ‘Mille Collines’ at the time of the genocide and when the European managers were evacuated Rusesabagina, manager of the smaller Hôtel des Diplomates at the time, was made manager.

During the 1000-day genocide (April to July 1994), the four star hotel continued to operate with 112 rooms, a bar/café, three conference rooms, a restaurant, and the now famous swimming pool where Rusesabagina was alleged to have bribed genocidaire militia and senior officers of the defeated Rwandan Armed Forces (ex-FAR) with money and alcohol to keep them from killing Tutsis seeking refuge in the hotel.

After ‘Hotel Rwanda’ had shot him to international fame, some genocide survivors disputed Rusesabagina’s account of rescuing them from imminent slaughter.

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