Barely two years after he was sentenced to 25 years for terrorism by a Rwandan court, a former hotel manager portrayed as a hero in the Hollywood film Hotel Rwanda, Paul Rusesabagina, has been released from prison in Kigali, Rwanda.
Rusesabagina, 68, was accompanied by a United States embassy official as he was moved from prison to the residence of Qatar’s ambassador in the Rwandan capital Kigali late on Friday, according to two senior officials of US President Joe Biden’s administration who briefed reporters in Washington, DC.
The decision to commute Rusesabagina’s sentence followed his request for clemency, government spokesperson Yolande Makolo told Al Jazeera on Friday.
But “no one should be under any illusion about what this means as there is consensus that serious crimes were committed, for which they were convicted,” Makolo said. Under Rwandan law, commutation “does not extinguish the underlying conviction”, she said.
Rusesabagina, an outspoken critic of President Paul Kagame, is expected to be transferred to Qatar’s capital Doha and then to the US, Majid Al-Ansari, spokesperson of Qatar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said on Friday.
Rusesabagina has permanent residency rights in the US.
“The procedure for his transfer … is under way,” Al-Ansari said.