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Real life ‘Hotel Rwanda’ hero, Paul Rusesabagina’s 25-year jail sentence stands despite appeals

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Renowned Rwandan government critic and real-life hero of ‘Hotel Rwanda,’ the 2005 award winning movie on the 1994 Rwandan genocide, Paul Rusesabagina, has had his 25-year jail sentence on terror charges upheld by an appeals court.

Rusesabagina, 67, was a worldwide acclaimed hero in the movie where he was portrayed sheltering hundreds of people during the genocide that killed more than one million people, mostly of the Tutsi ethnic group.

However, the Rwandan government accused him of promoting the genocide and in September 2021, Rusesabagina was convicted on eight terrorism charges “related to the activities of an organisation opposed to President Paul Kagame’s rule,” and has been in a Rwandan prison.

Though Rusesabagina has continued to deny all the charges and refused to take part in the trial which he and his supporters have denounced as a politically motivated sham, his 25-year sentence was confirmed by a court in Kigali on Tuesday by Judge Emmanuel Kamere.

“The 25-year sentence is equal to the severity of the crime he committed,” Kamere said, while delivering judgement.

On different occasions, Rusesabagina has acknowledged having a leadership role in the Rwanda Movement for Democratic Change (MRCD), which has been accused of the 1994 genocide, but denied responsibility for attacks carried out by its armed wing, the National Liberation Front (FLN).

Who is Paul Rusesabagina?

For those who do not know him, Paul Rusesabagina is a celebrated Rwandan hotelier, politician and staunch critic of President Kagame.

He shot into the limelight with his portrayal in the Hollywood movie, Hotel Rwanda, and has been hailed for his role in providing shelter to 1,200 people in his hotel, Hotel des Mille Collines in Kigali, during the 1994 Hutu extremists attack.

Rusesabagina is also an inspiration behind the Oscar-nominated Hollywood film Hotel Rwanda where his part was played by Don Cheadle and was awarded a US Presidential medal and is a green cardholder for his role during the genocide.

Politics

Court summons Tunisian opposition leader, Rached Ghannouchi, over money laundering

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Tunisian opposition party, Ennahda has revealed that its leader, Rached Ghannouchi has been summoned by a judge over money laundering allegations.

The party revealed news of his summon on Wednesday and accused the authorities of targeting him for political reasons.

The summon is said to answer questions about the allegations, which Ennahda say are untrue and a result of “distortion and fabrication”.

Recall that a court in Tunisia in May, slammed a travel ban on Ghannouchi, alongside 33 other party faithful under the suspicion of involvement in an alleged parallel security service put into place after the 2011 Tunisian revolution.

Ghannouchi has been one of the loudest critics of president Kais Saied since the president seized broad powers last year, moved to rule by decree and ousted the elected parliament in which the Ennahda leader is speaker.

President Saied sacked the government, suspended parliament, and seized a string of powers in July 2021. In December of the same year, he announced in a speech on national television a three-month “popular consultation” with the Tunisian people after which “draft constitutional and other reforms will be put forward to a referendum on July 25”.

Ghannouchi’s summon is not the first time the Judiciary since Saied came to power will take decision that is perceive by many to be targeted at the president’s rival.

In June, a Tunisian military court sentenced a prominent political opponent and rival of President Kais Saied, Seifeddine Makhlouf, to one year in prison and also banned him from practising law for five years.

President Saied’s seat-tight disposition has continued with controversial reforms despite criticisms and wild protests.

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Exiled former Burkina Faso’s president, Blaise Compaore, to return home

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Burkinabe authorities has revealed that former president of Burkina Faso, Blaise Compaore will return from exile for the first time since being ousted in a 2014 uprising.

The junta led by Colonel Damiba made the revelation on Wednesday. Compaore will return home despite his conviction earlier this year for complicity in his predecessor’s murder.

Blaise Compaore was sentenced to life imprisonment by a military tribunal in April for the murder of his predecessor and ‘best friend’, Thomas Sankara, in a 1987 coup.

The statement from the presidency said the meeting of former heads of state “does not hinder judicial prosecutions engaged against some of them”, but did not elaborate.

An association of lawyers representing the families of Sankara and others killed during the 1987 coup demanded that Compaore be arrested once in Burkina Faso.

Local media have speculated in recent days that Compaore could be granted a pardon over the Sankara murder as part of the junta’s reconciliation process.

The coup that brought the current junta into power in Burkina Faso was launched on 23 January 2022 when gunfire erupted in front of the presidential residence in the Burkinabé capital Ouagadougou and several military barracks around the city.

The military Junta of Lieutenant-Colonel Damiba ceased power afterward and Christian Kabore has been on house arrest since then. Although fighting insurgency was one of the reasons for the last coup, Burkina Faso however remains in the eye of the storm with continuous terrorist attacks.

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