Rwanda.- ‘Hotel Rwanda’ hero Paul Rusesabagina arrives in Qatar after being released from prison


Paul Rusesabagina, the hero whose story is told in the movie ‘Hotel Rwanda’, has arrived in Qatar after being released from prison, where he was serving a 25-year sentence for terrorism, U.S. authorities have confirmed.

I can confirm that Paul Rusesabagina has left Rwanda and is currently in Doha,» said U.S. National Security Council spokesman John Kirby, according to The New York Times.

Kirby stressed that the man, who also has Belgian nationality, »will soon begin his trip to the United States», without giving further details. Rusesabagina was released on Saturday after obtaining a pardon from President Paul Kagame, of whom he is a well-known opponent.

Rusesabagina was arrested in August 2020 and sentenced to 25 years in prison by Rwanda’s Supreme Court for his role at the head of the Rwandan Movement for Democratic Change (MRDC), the political arm of the rebel National Liberation Front (FLN) group, which claimed responsibility for several attacks between 2018 and 2019 that resulted in at least nine deaths.

The man acknowledged at the end of September 2020 his ties with the FLN, although he wielded that his role was only of a »diplomatic» nature. Thus, he said that the MRDC created the FLN »as an armed wing, not as a terrorist group as the prosecutor claims». I do not deny that the FLN committed crimes, but my role was diplomacy,» he stressed.

The United Nations denounced that the arrest was carried out arbitrarily and under strange circumstances, and questioned the fairness of a trial. He also recalled Rusesabagina’s record as a critic of the Kagame government and in defense of human rights.

Rusesabagina is known worldwide for the film ‘Hotel Rwanda’. As acting manager of the Mille Collines Hotel in Kigali, he managed to protect more than 1,200 Tutsis and moderate Hutus in the establishment during the 1994 genocide – in which nearly 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were massacred – by taking advantage of his contacts.