Rwanda : President Kagame pardoned Paul Rusesabagina

Rwanda : President Kagame pardoned Paul Rusesabagina

The prison sentence of Paul Rusesabagina and Callixte Nsabimana nicknamed Sankara has been commuted by presidential pardon. They were serving 25 and 15 years in prison respectively. Eighteen other detainees convicted of terrorism, including Burundians, also saw their sentences commuted according to Rwandan justice. INFO SOS Médias Burundi

The decision was taken, according to the Council of Ministers on Friday, after considering requests for clemency made by the accused.

Paul Rusesabagina and Callixte Nsabimana nicknamed ‘Sankara’, had been convicted of terrorism and forming rebel groups.

On September 20, 2021, the Special Chamber for International and Cross-Border Crimes of the High Court found the former president of the FLN rebel group described as a “terrorist movement” by Rwandan authorities, Paul Rusesabagina, guilty of terrorism and condemned him to 25 years in prison.

He had been arrested in August 2020 from the United States of America, which he described as an illegal and malignant deportation, while his trial opened in January 2021.

Rusesabagina and his co-defendants, including Nsabimana, former spokesperson for the FLN rebel group, have been charged with, in particular, forming an irregular armed group, belonging to a terrorist group and financing terrorism.

The crimes they are accused of have been perpetrated since 2018 when FLN fighters planned attacks on Rwanda, which claimed the lives of nine residents in Rwanda’s Southern Province.

They also caused many serious injuries and caused significant material and economic damage.

Besides Rusesabagina, Sankara was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Sankara was then sentenced to 15 years in prison after pleading guilty and appealing for clemency.

Several members of this rebel group were arrested coming from the Nyungwe natural reserve, an extension of the Kibira natural forest on the Burundi side. And among them, there are Burundian nationals.

The press release from the Council of Ministers held this Friday under the aegis of Rwandan President Paul Kagame underlines that for these eighteen co-accused of Rusesabagina and Sankara, sentences have also been commuted.

Last Monday, Rwandan President Paul Kagame said there had been talks about “resolving” the fate of Paul Rusesabagina, speaking of a possible release.

He made the revelation during a TV interview on the sidelines of the recent Global Security Forum in Doha, Qatar.

“We are not people who want to stay stuck in one place and not make any forward movement”, he explained.

“There is a discussion of all possible ways to resolve this issue without jeopardizing the most fundamental aspects of this case and I believe there will always be a way forward”, he added.

President Kagame also referred to some cases related to the history of Rwanda where the country took decisions that some believed were “impossible”.

He cited an example of people convicted of the 1994 genocide against Tutsis who were pardoned and reintegrated into the Rwandan society.

Rusesabagina has not yet been released from prison for administration formalities, his family members, who were still demanding his release, have not yet reacted.

Since Rusesabagina’s arrest in 2020, countries like the United States of America and Belgium, where he was granted citizenship, have continuously advocated for his release.

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