Rwanda’s government has freed Paul Rusesabagina, who inspired the film “Hotel Rwanda” after saving hundreds of people during the nation’s genocide but was imprisoned years later for terrorism.
U.S. officials said late Friday that Rusesabagina, who had been sentenced in 2021 to 25 years in prison after a widely criticized trial, has been moved to the official residence of Qatar’s ambassador to Rwanda in the capital city of Kigali. In all he was detained for 939 days.
Rusesabagina, a U.S. resident and a Belgian citizen, will be moved to the United States in coming days, said senior U.S. administration officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Rwanda’s government commuted the sentence of Rusesabagina and the sentences of 19 others on Friday. Government spokeswoman Yolande Makolo told The Associated Press the order by President Paul Kagame was issued after a request for clemency but stressed that, under Rwandan law, commutation doesn’t “extinguish” the conviction.
“Rwanda notes the constructive role of the U.S. government in creating conditions for dialogue on this issue, as well as the facilitation provided by the state of Qatar,” she said.
Rwanda commutes sentence, frees Paul Rusesabagina of 'Hotel Rwanda' fame