Paul Rusesabagina, the man who inspired the Hollywood film “Hotel Rwanda” and had been sentenced to prison in Rwanda, has been released from prison after having his sentence commuted by the country’s President Paul Kagame follwing his request for clemency.
Rusesabagina was found guilty on terrorism-related charges in September 2021 and was sentenced to 25 years in prison.
Rusesabagina, who is a dual Rwandan and Belgian citizen and resident of the United States, will be released on Saturday March 25, along with 19 other people that had been convicted alongside him
“Commutation of sentence does not extinguish the underlying conviction,” said Rwandan government spokeswoman Yolande Makolo on Friday.
“Rwanda notes the constructive role of the US government in creating conditions for dialogue on this issue, as well as the facilitation provided by the State of Qatar,” she added.
Rusesabagina was arrested by Rwandan authorities while he was carrying out international travel in 2020 in what his family has claimed was a kidnapping.
At his trial in 2021, Rusesabagina was found guilty of being part of a terror group called MRCD-FLN. Two 2018 attacks in which nine people died were a particular focus, according to a government statement.
Before his conviction and imprisonment, Rusesabagina, was an outspoken critic of President Kagame.
His story was made into the Hollywood film “Hotel Rwanda,” starring Don Cheadle and Sophie Okonedo and he is best known for saving hundreds of Rwandans during the country’s genocide by sheltering them in the hotel he managed.