Verdict in trial of 'Hotel Rwanda' hero set for 20 September

Initially a decision in the highly watched case against the 67-year-old Paul Rusesabagina had been due on Friday but it was delayed without any reason given.

FILE: Rwandan Movement for Democratic Change (MRCD) MRCD-UBUMWE chairman Paul Rusesabagina speaks during a press conference of the political platform MRCD-UBUMWE and the political party RDI-EWANDA RWIZA, concerning the political and security situation in Rwanda, in Brussels, on 18 June 2019. Pictur: AFP

KIGALI - A Rwandan court will deliver next month its delayed verdict in the terrorism trial of Paul Rusesabagina, the "Hotel Rwanda" hero turned government critic, the judiciary announced on Friday.

Initially a decision in the highly watched case against the 67-year-old Rusesabagina had been due on Friday but it was delayed without any reason given.

The Rwandan judiciary said on Twitter that the court would now announce its verdict against Rusesabagina and his 20 co-accused on September 20 at 11 am.

Prosecutors have sought a life sentence for Rusesabagina, the former hotelier credited with saving hundreds of lives during the 1994 genocide, and whose bravery inspired the Hollywood film "Hotel Rwanda".

The government of President Paul Kagame accuses him of supporting the National Liberation Front (FLN), a rebel group blamed for attacks inside Rwanda in 2018 and 2019 that killed nine people.

Rusesabagina has denied any involvement in the attacks, but was a founder of the Rwandan Movement for Democratic Change (MRCD), an opposition group of which the FLN is seen as the armed wing.

His family and supporters insist that the charges against him are fabricated and have campaigned globally for his release.

Rusesabagina, who used his celebrity following the 2004 film to denounce Kagame as a dictator, was arrested in August 2020 when a plane he believed was bound for Burundi landed instead in Kigali.

The trial opened in February, but Rusesabagina, a Belgian citizen and US green card holder, has boycotted proceedings since March, accusing the court of "unfairness and a lack of independence".

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