Paul Rusesabagina, the ailing "Hotel Rwanda" hero, is set to be released after the government announced on Friday that a 25-year prison term against the vehemently vocal President Paul Kagame had been reduced.
Less than two weeks ago, Kagame stated that Kigali was looking into resolving Rusesabagina's situation, which had raised concerns in the West and among international rights organizations.
"Paul Rusesabagina and (co-defendant) Callixte Nsabimana have had their prison sentences commuted by presidential order, after consideration of their requests for clemency," government spokeswoman Yolande Makolo told AFP.
She emphasized the part played by the United States and Qatar in the case's resolution by stating that the sentences of an additional 18 persons who were convicted of terrorism-related offences with Rusesabagina in September 2021 have also been commuted.
"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 continued.
Under the condition of anonymity, a government source told AFP that Rusesabagina and the other detainees will likely be freed on Saturday.
Rusesabagina's family, who has long expressed concern about his failing health and expressed worries that he would pass while in custody, told AFP that they were looking forward to seeing him again.
"We are glad to hear about the news of Paul's release. The family said in a statement that they were expecting to see him again soon.
During the 1994 genocide, which mostly targeted Tutsis but included moderate Hutus, Rusesabagina, the hotel manager in Kigali at the time, is credited with saving roughly 1,200 lives.
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