On trial

US-Rwanda relations: Rusesabagina prosecution complicates aid support

By Julian Pecquet

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Posted on May 23, 2022 07:50

Rwanda Hotel Rwanda Trial
Paul Rusesabagina, who inspired the film “Hotel Rwanda” and is credited with saving more than 1,000 people by sheltering them at the hotel he managed during the genocide, speaks to lawyers as he attends a court hearing in Kigali, Rwanda Friday, Feb. 26, 2021. (AP Photo/Muhizi Olivier)

The US State Department has determined that humanitarian hotelier turned opposition politician Paul Rusesabagina is being “wrongfully detained,” straining relations with an increasingly authoritarian Rwandan government that has long been praised as a model for development in the region.

The Joe Biden administration earlier this month notified Rusesabagina’s family of its concerns after Rwanda’s Court of Appeal in April upheld his 25-year sentencing on terrorism-related charges, a State Department spokesperson confirmed to The Africa Report. The determination means that the US special presidential envoy for hostage affairs, Roger Carstens, is now tracking the case of the permanent US resident.

“The Department of State has determined Paul Rusesabagina is wrongfully detained. The determination took into account the totality of the circumstances, notably the lack of fair trial guarantees during his trial,” the spokesperson said. “This determination does not imply any position on his innocence or guilt.”

We have concluded that there were at least some violations of his fair trial guarantees.

Rusesabagina was lured from his home in Texas in 2020 with the promise of work in

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