Rwanda, commuted sentence to 25 years for Rusesabagina: he will be released

Rwanda has commuted the 25-year prison sentence for Paul Rusesabagina, hero of the film ‘Hotel Rwanda’, inspired by his deeds, and will be released tomorrow. This was announced by the spokeswoman for the Kigali government, Yolande Makolo. The sentence handed down in September 2021 was “commuted by presidential order”, specified Makolo in a case that has aroused international protests and among human rights defenders. The decision came less than two weeks after Rwandan President Paul Kagame announced that he would settle the case. Rusesabagina’s supporters have denounced the charade of his trial as full of irregularities, while the 68-year-old’s family members have warned of the risks in prison due to his deteriorating health. By May 2022, the sentence against Rusesabagina had been upheld by the judges and most of the 20 co-defendants were sentenced to prison terms of between three and 20 years. Rusesabagina, an ethnic Hutu, was the manager of a hotel in the Rwandan capital Kigali and is credited with saving over 1,000 people during the 1994 Tutsi genocide.

The joy of the family

“We are pleased to hear the news of Paul’s release. The family hopes to be reunited with him soon”: is the statement of Rusesabagina’s family. The sentence review also applies to Rusesabagina’s co-defendants, he added, emphasizing the role played by the United States and Qatar in the case. Makolo, however, specified that “nobody should have any illusions about what this decision means, since there is agreement on the serious crimes committed and for which they have been convicted”.