On 20th September 2021, the High Court Special Chamber for International and Cross-border crimes convicted the former President of MRCD-FLN terrorist group, Paul Rusesabagina of terrorism charges and handed him 25-year jail term.
He had been arrested in August 2020 while his trial began on 20th January 2021.
Rusesabagina and co-accused individuals including Nsabimana Callixte alias ’Sankara’ (former spokesperson of MRCD-FLN terror group) faced charges including the formation of an irregular armed group, membership of a terrorist group, financing terrorism, murder as an act of terrorism, arson as an act of terrorism, attempted murder as an act of terrorism, and assault and battery as an act of terrorism.
The crimes were committed since 2018 when MRDC/FLN combatants plotted attacks to Rwanda which claimed lives of nine innocent residents in the Southern Province.
They left many others gravely injured, and caused significant material and economic damage in South-West Rwanda.
Apart from Rusesabagina, Sankara, the former spokesperson for the terror group was sentenced to 20 years behind bars.
Sankara was later handed 15-year sentence after pleading guilty and appealing for leniency.
In March 2023, Rwandan President Paul Kagame on Monday said there were discussions about “resolving” the fate of Paul Rusesabagina that signaled his possible release.
He made the disclosure during a video interview at the recent Global Security Forum in Doha, Qatar.
“We’re not people who want to get stuck in one place and not make any movement forward,” said Kagame.
“There is a discussion looking at all possible ways of resolving that issue without compromising the most fundamental aspects of that case and I think there’s always going to be a way forward,” he added.
The Head of State also reminisced on some cases related to the Rwanda’s history where the country took decisions that people some people believed to be ‘impossible.
He pointed out an example of people convicted of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi who were pardoned and reintegrated into Rwandan society.
Since the arrest of Rusesabagina in 2020, countries including the United States of America and Belgium where he was granted citizenship, continuously advocated for his release.