Hotel Rwanda’ hero given 25-year sentence in ‘terrorism’ case
Written by Tinyefuza Naboth on September 21, 2021
Paul Rusesabagina, the subject of Oscar-nominated film Hotel Rwanda portraying his life-saving actions during the Rwandan genocide, is now facing many years in prison for terror-related crimes.
Nearly two decades ago he presented himself as an ordinary man who happened to be caught up in extraordinary times.
The Rwandan former hotel manager, 67, is credited with saving the lives of more than 1,000 people during the genocide.
Over the course of 100 days, starting in April 1994, about 800,000 people, mostly ethnic Tutsis were massacred by extremists from the Hutu community.
As Rusesabagina, a Hutu married to a Tutsi, described in his autobiography, An Ordinary Man, it was his ability to persuade the killers against targeting those who had sought refuge in the Hotel Mille Collines that spared them.
He was also able to use his connections and call in favours with some of the high-profile people who used to pass through the upmarket hotel. In addition he had cash.
In one passage he writes about the hotel being surrounded by “hundreds of [militia] holding spears, machetes, and rifles” shortly after he was told he had to evacuate the building.
“It would be a killing zone… in an hour,” he concluded. He then got on the phone and spoke to as many senior officials as he could, one of whom called off the attack.
He always maintained that it was what he said that made the difference.