Paul Rusesabagina is serving 25 years in prison in Rwanda on terrorism charges, which his supporters say is a sham.
The family of Paul Rusesabagina, whose heroism during the 1994 Rwandan genocide was portrayed in the Hollywood film Hotel Rwanda, has filed a $400 million lawsuit in the US over his alleged kidnapping and torture by the government in Kigali.
The lawsuit names the government of Rwanda, President Paul Kagame and other senior officials, including the former justice minister and intelligence chief.
“The complaint alleges that the government of Rwanda and senior Rwandan officials colluded to facilitate and carry out an elaborate plot to lure Paul Rusesabagina from his home in Texas to Rwanda, where he would be tortured and illegally detained,” the family and its lawyers said. said in a statement Saturday.
Holder of a US green card and Belgian citizenship, Rusesabagina, 67, was tricked into traveling from the US to Burundi in 2020 by the promise of work.
“Instead, he was drugged and taken to Rwanda, where President Paul Kagame’s security agents forcibly kidnapped, tortured and forced him into illegal detention,” the statement said.
He is now serving 25 years in prison on terrorism charges following a trial last year, which his supporters say was rife with irregularities.
A copy of the lawsuit seen by the AFP news agency indicates that the lawsuit was filed in a Washington DC court on February 22 and served on the Rwandan government on March 8.
Rusesabagina’s family and attorneys will hold a press conference in Washington, DC on Wednesday, May 4 to disclose more details about the lawsuit, which seeks at least $400 million in damages, as well as damages.
The government in Kigali did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Rusesabagina became a global celebrity after the release of Hotel Rwanda, in which he risked his life to shelter hundreds of people as the manager of a luxury hotel in Kigali during the genocide when ethnic Hutus murdered more than 800,000 people, mostly of the Tutsi minority.
American actor Don Cheadle was nominated for an Oscar for his role as Rusesabagina.
Rusesabagina later used his fame to highlight what he described as human rights abuses committed by the government of Paul Kagame, a Tutsi rebel commander who took power after his troops took Kigali and halted the genocide.
Rusesabagina was brought to Rwanda in 2020 and convicted in September 2021 for involvement in a rebel group responsible for deadly attacks in Rwanda in 2018 and 2019. Rusesabagina’s 25-year sentence was upheld by the Rwandan Court of Appeals earlier this month.
His family said the ruling is effectively a death sentence for the ailing 67-year-old.