Family of ‘Hotel Rwanda’ hero Paul Rusesabagina files $400m lawsuit over his alleged abduction and torture | World News



The family of a former hotel manager who was portrayed as a hero in a Hollywood film about the 1994 Rwandan genocide has filed a $400m lawsuit over his alleged abduction and torture.

Paul Rusesabagina, who was played by American actor Don Cheadle in the Oscar-nominated film Hotel Rwanda, is credited with saving hundreds of Tutsis from being killed.

The killings ended when Tutsi rebels, led by now-President Paul Kagame, seized control and triggered an exodus of more than two million Hutus.

Last year, the 67-year-old received a 25-year prison sentence for terrorism after a trial, that his supporters claim was filled with irregularities.

His family has claimed in their lawsuit that the Rwandan government used “its agents to trick him” into travelling back to Rwanda from the US, where he had been living in exile.

President Kagame’s security agents then “forcibly abducted him, tortured him and forced him into illegal imprisonment”, the suit – which has been seen by Sky News – states.

Rusesabagina is known as a prominent critic of President Kagame, which his family said is why he was “tracked, harassed, and ultimately kidnapped”.

The lawsuit, which was filed in a Washington court on 22 February, names the government of Rwanda, President Paul Kagame, and other figures including the former justice minister and intelligence chief.

Paul Rusesabagina, portrayed as a hero in a Hollywood movie about Rwanda's 1994 genocide, is escorted in handcuffs into a courtroom, in Kigali
Rusesabagina received a 25-year prison sentence for terrorism

It is seeking at least $400m (£307.2m) in compensation as well as punitive damages.

A news conference is due to be held by Rusesabagina’s family and lawyers on Wednesday, where more details of the suit are expected to be announced.

The government of Rwanda has not yet publicly commented on the claims.

Rusesabagina has received many awards for his work, including the US Presidential Medal of Freedom from George Bush in 2005.

US President Bush presents Presidential Medal of Freedom to Rusesabagina in Washington
US President Bush presents the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Rusesabagina in 2005

In September, he was convicted of involvement in a rebel group blamed for deadly gun, grenade and arson attacks in Rwanda in 2018 and 2019.

His sentence was upheld by Rwanda’s Court of Appeal earlier this month, a ruling his family has described as a death sentence.


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