Paul Rusesabagina, a Rwandan government critic whose efforts to save people during the 1994 genocide, was released from jail. After spending more than 900 days behind bars. His life was depicted in the hit Hollywood film “Hotel Rwanda
Rusesabagina was freed late Friday and will return to the United States. His 25-year sentence on terrorism charges was commuted by the Kigali administration.
His detention prompted outrage in the West and among human rights organizations. Highlighting Rwanda’s track record of suppressing political dissent and free expression under President Paul Kagame.
Rusesabagina was jailed after he was found to have backed an armed rebel group in a trial that his supporters denounced as a sham.
The 68-year-old has been in failing health and his family said he was tortured during his 939 days in detention.
His sentence was “commuted by presidential order”. As were the prison terms of 19 co-defendants convicted alongside him, According to AFP.
Rusesabagina arrived at the Qatari ambassador’s home in Kigali shortly before midnight on Friday, US official said.
He will most likely remain for “a couple of days” before flying to Qatar, which assisted in his release, and then to the United States, where he has permanent residency, according to another US official.
Rwanda praised both the US and Qatar for their roles in resolving the case after Kagame conducted talks in Doha earlier this month.
“This is the result of a shared desire to reset (the) US-Rwanda relationship. Kagame’s press secretary Stephanie Nyombayire said Friday. Adding that Rwanda’s close relationship with Qatar was “critical.”
US President Joe Biden hailed Rusesabagina’s release as a “happy outcome.”
“Paul’s family is eager to welcome him home, and I share their delight at today’s good news,” he said in a statement.
The film was inspired by his experience as a hotel manager during the 1994 Rwandan genocide. When his family and hundreds of guests — mainly ethnic Tutsis like his wife. Took refuge inside the Mille Collines. As machete-wielding mobs killed people outside the hotel gates.