Not Yet Over: Prosecutors Appeal Terrorism Judgement Against Kagame’s Staunch Critic Rusesabagina

Not Yet Over: Prosecutors Appeal Terrorism Judgement Against Kagame’s Staunch Critic Rusesabagina

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By Spy Uganda Correspondent

Kigali: Rwandan prosecutors said Wednesday they have filed an appeal against a court ruling that sentenced “Hotel Rwanda” hero Paul Rusesabagina to 25 years in prison on terrorism charges.

READ ALSO: Final Ruling! Rwandan Genocide Hero Rusesabagina Handed 25yr Sentence Over Terrorism

The National Public Prosecution Authority is appealing the rulings against Rusesabagina, a staunch critic of President Paul Kagame, and 20 co-defendants, spokesman Faustin Nkusi said.

Rusesabagina, 67, and his fellow accused were convicted and sentenced on September 20 after a trial that rights groups and his supporters had branded a sham.

READ ALSO: Quit Or Rot In Jail Like Your Client: Kagame Deports Belgian Lawyer Representing Gov’t Critic Rusesabagina

At the time, chief prosecutor Aimable Havugiyaremye told reporters the prosecution was “not happy with the verdict because all the accused got lesser sentences than what the prosecutors had prescribed”.

Prosecutors had sought a sentence of life in prison for Rusesabagina, the former hotel manager who was accused of backing a rebel group blamed for a spate of attacks in Rwanda in 2018 and 2019.

He has been behind bars since his arrest in August 2020 when a plane he believed was bound for Burundi landed instead in Kigali.

His family say Rusesabagina was kidnapped and have rejected the nine charges against him as payback by a vengeful government for his outspoken views against Kagame.

Death Sentence

Neither he nor his lawyers were in court for September’s verdict in September, which saw his co-defendants receive sentences ranging between three and 20 years.

The United States and Belgium both voiced concern that Rusesabagina had been denied a fair trial.

His daughter Carine Kanimba said after the ruling that his advanced age made the punishment “equivalent to a death sentence”.

“We fear that my father will be killed in prison,” she said.

Kagame’s government accused Rusesabagina of belonging to the National Liberation Front (FLN), a rebel group blamed for attacks in 2018 and 2019 that killed nine people.

He 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.

Kagame had dismissed criticism of the case, saying that Rusesabagina had been in the dock not because of his fame but over the lives lost “because of his actions”.

The Court of Appeal will decide at a later date when to hear the prosecution’s appeal, a court official said.

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