Paul Rusesabagina, who was hailed as a hero for saving fellow Rwandans, was detained and paraded before the news media in handcuffs in Kigali on Monday. Clement Uwiringiyimana-Reuters

The terrorism trial of a former hotelier who saved hundreds of people’s lives during the Rwanda genocide was set to start in the capital Kigali on Wednesday.

Paul Rusesabagina gained hero status for rescuing people during the 1994 genocide and his story was made into the Hollywood film `Hotel Rwanda.’

Mr Rusesabagina, a long-time critic of President Paul Kagame, is charged with terrorism, among other crimes, and faces a maximum of 25 years in prison if convicted.

The 66-year-old, who has lived outside Rwanda for years, says he was illegally arrested, kidnapped on August 27, 2020, and was a victim of illegal rendition.


In September, Mr Rusesabagina admitted to being involved in setting up an anti-government group, but said he never supported any violence.

“Hotel Rwanda’’ tells how the manager, played by Don Cheadle, gave more than 1,200 people refuge on the hotel grounds and saved their lives.

Internationally, Mr Rusesabagina was celebrated as a hero, and in 2005 U.S. President George W. Bush presented him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

In his East African home country, however, the story was denied by the government and some survivors.

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