Pics. courtesy of Reuters

A man who was portrayed in a film as a life-saving hero during the Rwandan genocide has been convicted of terrorism by a court in Rwanda.

Sixty Seven Year old Paul Rusesabagina is accused of supporting a rebel group blamed for deadly gun, grenade and arson attacks in Rwanda in 2018 and 2019.

The court found him guilty on terror charges which killed nine civilians in 2018.

Rusesabagina’s journey from celebrated figure to state enemy happened as his criticism of the government grew.

Initially he was hailed for what he did to prevent some people being killed during the genocide.

His family say Rusesabagina was kidnapped and dismiss the nine charges against him, including terrorism, as payback by a vengeful government for his outspoken views.

In a period of 100 days from April 1994, 800,000 people, mostly from the Tutsi ethnic group, were slaughtered.

In the Oscar-nominated movie Hotel Rwanda, Rusesabagina, played by Don Cheadle, was shown how as a hotel manager, he managed to protect more than 1,000 people who had sought shelter.

Some survivors have gone on to question this version of events.

But as Rusesabagina’s profile was raised following the release of the film in 2005, his criticism of the post-genocide government and President Paul Kagame gained a wider audience.

He spoke about human rights abuses and alleged that the government was targeting Hutus.

Living in exile, Rusesabagina went on to lead an opposition coalition, which had an armed wing – the National Liberation Front (FLN).

In a 2018 video message, he called for regime change saying that “the time has come for us to use any means possible to bring about change in Rwanda”.

The FLN was accused of carrying out attacks in 2018 in which the authorities said nine people were killed, but Rusesabagina said he never asked anyone to target civilians.

The prosecution has asked for a life sentence for Rusesabagina.