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Hotel Rwanda film hero arrested on terror charges

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 Rusesabagina, 66, inspired 'Hotel Rwanda' [Photo: Courtesy]

A man who inspired a Hollywood film about the 1994 Rwandan genocide has been arrested accused of leading “terrorist movements”, officials say. Paul Rusesabagina, a Hutu, became well known after Hotel Rwanda depicted his efforts to save hundreds of Tutsis at his hotel during the 1994 genocide.

He later launched an opposition party with an armed wing based in the DR of Congo. About 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed in the genocide. They were killed by Hutu extremists who were forced from power by President Paul Kagame and his Tutsi-dominated Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF).

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Authorities yesterday gave no further details about his arrest even as his family claimed he was kidnapped while in Dubai. His appearance in handcuffs in Rwanda’s capital on Monday prompted concern among rights activists worried that the outspoken critic of Rwanda’s government was the latest example of the government targeting dissidents beyond its borders.

Rusesabagina, 66, has received several human rights awards for his life-saving efforts, including the US Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005. He was paraded by the authorities at a press conference in Kigali after he was arrested under an international warrant.

He had been living in exile. Mr Rusesabagina’s name featured recently in a terrorism case in Rwanda. The court heard claims the National Liberation Front (FLN) rebel group had received help from Zambia’s President Edgar Lungu because of his close friendship with Rusesabagina.

Mr Lungu’s spokesman denied the allegation. In 2011, Rusesabagina was accused of funding subversion in Rwanda, but no charges were brought. He denied any wrongdoing and said there was a smear campaign against him.

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President Kagame’s critics accuse him of not tolerating any opposition. Several opposition leaders have been jailed and others fled into exile. The 2004 film Hotel Rwanda told the story of how Rusesabagina, a middle-class Hutu married to a Tutsi, used his influence - and bribes - to convince military officials to secure a safe escape for about 1,200 people who sought shelter at the Mille Collines Hotel in Kigali.

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