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Family of ‘Hotel Rwanda’ hero Paul Rusesabagina files $400 million lawsuit over his alleged kidnapping and torture

Paul Rusesabagina was played by actor Don Cheadle as a hero in the 2004 film Hotel Rwanda, which tells the story of how he sheltered Tutsis from carnage in the hotel he managed.

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

The family of a former hotel manager who was portrayed as a hero in a 1994 Hollywood film about the Rwandan genocide have filed a $400 million lawsuit over his alleged kidnapping 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 current President Paul Kagame, took control and triggered an exodus of more than two million Hutus.

Last year, the 67-year-old was sentenced to 25 years in prison for terrorism after a trial, which his supporters said was rife with irregularities.

His family claimed in their lawsuit that the Rwandan government used “their employees to trick him” into returning to Rwanda from the US, where he had lived in exile.

Kagame’s security guards then “forcibly kidnapped him, tortured him and sent him to prison illegally,” the complaint – seen by Sky News – states.

Rusesabagina is known as a well-known critic of President Kagame, whose family said was why he was “stalked, harassed and eventually kidnapped”.

The lawsuit, filed in a Washington court on Feb. 22, names the Rwandan government, President Paul Kagame and other figures including the former attorney general and intelligence chief.

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

A press conference will be held by Rusesabagina’s family and lawyers on Wednesday, which is expected to announce more details of the case.

The Rwandan government has not yet commented publicly on the claims.

Rusesabagina has received numerous awards for her work, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom from George Bush in 2005.

In September, he was convicted of being involved in a militant group accused of carrying out 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 described as a death sentence.

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