Rwanda frees Paul Rusesabagina of 'Hotel Rwanda' fame
Rwanda's government has commuted the 25-year sentence of Paul Rusesabagina, who inspired the film "Hotel Rwanda" for saving hundreds of countrymen from genocide but was convicted of terrorism offenses years later in a widely criticized trial.
Government spokeswoman Yolande Makolo told The Associated Press on Friday that the presidential order was issued after a request for clemency on behalf of Rusesabagina, a 68-year-old U.S. resident and Belgian citizen. Senior U.S. officials said Rusesabagina arrived late Friday at the home of the Qatari ambassador in the Rwandan capital of Kigali and was expected to leave the country in the coming days.
U.S. President Joe Biden hailed the news, saying, "Paul's family is eager to welcome him back to the United States, and I share their joy at today's good news." He thanked the governments of Rwanda and Qatar, as well as U.S. government officials who worked "to achieve today's happy outcome."
Nineteen others also had their sentences commuted. Under Rwandan law, commutation doesn't "extinguish" the conviction, Makolo added.
"Rwanda notes the constructive role of the U.S. government in creating conditions for dialogue on this issue, as well as the facilitation provided by the state of Qatar," she said. President Paul Kagame earlier this month said discussions were under way on resolving the issue.
Qatar foreign ministry spokesman Majid Al-Ansari said in a statement that "the procedure for (Rusesabagina's) transfer to the state of Qatar is under way and he will then head to the United States of America. This issue was discussed during meetings that brought together Qatari and Rwandan officials at the highest levels."
The senior American officials, who briefed reporters on condition of...
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