Real-life inspiration for ‘Hotel Rwanda’ arrested on charges of terrorism

Nii Ntreh Aug 31, 2020 at 08:00am

August 31, 2020 at 08:00 am | News

Nii Ntreh

Nii Ntreh | Associate Editor

August 31, 2020 at 08:00 am | News

Paul Rusesabagina, who sheltered more than 1,000 people in his hotel during the Rwandan genocide, has been accused of terrorism in Rwanda. Photo Credit: Hotel Rwanda Rusesabina Foundation

Paul Rusesabagina, the man whose life inspired the Oscar-nominated film Hotel Rwanda about the 1994 genocide, has been arrested on charges of terrorism in his country.

According to multiple reports from Rwanda, Rusesabagina was presented to the media by the Rwanda Investigation Bureau (RIB) on Monday morning. He was handcuffed and wore a tan suit and a face mask.

The RIB called the arrest of the businessman a result of “international cooperation”. Contrary to his global reputation of heroism, the RIB says Rusesabagina is involved with “terrorist movements”.

Kigali-based news outlet Taarifa described Rusesabagina as the founder of the National Liberation Forces (FNL), an ethnic Hutu paramilitary wing of the Rwandan Movement for Democratic Change (MRCD).

The FNL is also the name of a former rebel group of disaffected Hutu in neighboring Burundi but it is now a recognized political party.

However, Rusesabagina, a longtime critic of President Paul Kagame, has denied all accusations of terrorism in the past.

In 2010, Rwanda’s prosecutor-general tried to bring a case against Rusesabagina but that ambition was nullified by a lack of evidence. Rusesabagina who at the time lived in the US, called the attempts by the prosecutor-general “baseless”.

Even as he left the United States, the famous hotelier could not settle in his country but live in South Africa. He planned to challenge Kagame for the Rwandan presidency, a dream that is now in jeopardy.

Rusesagina is known to much of the world through the 2004 drama in which he was portrayed by Don Cheadle. He was also awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom Award by former President George W. Bush in 2005.

But in Rwanda, Rusesabagina divides opinion. Ibuka, the Rwandan genocide survivor’s group, once accused him of exaggerating his life-saving role in the genocide.

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