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Kagame Pondering Rusesabagina Resolution

FILE: Paul Rusesabagina looks on as he sits with some of his co-accused at the Supreme Court in Kigali on February 17, 2021 where he is facing charges related to their association with Mouvement Rwandais pour le changement démocratique (MRCD) and its armed wing FLN.

KIGALI - Rwandan President Paul Kagame on Monday said there were discussions about "resolving" the fate of Paul Rusesabagina, who was portrayed as a hero in the Hollywood film "Hotel Rwanda" and is serving a 25-year sentence in Rwanda on terrorism charges.

Kagame has said his country would not be bullied over Rusesabagina, but on Monday appeared to suggest that there was room for compromise.

"We don't get stuck with our past. We move into the future," Kagame said.

"So there is discussion, there is looking at all possible ways of resolving that issue without compromising the most fundamental aspects of that case," he added.

Rusesabagina was sentenced in September 2021 over his ties to an organization opposed to Kagame's rule. He denied all the charges and refused to take part in the trial that he and his supporters called a political sham.

Rusesabagina, a vocal critic of Kagame, acknowledged having a leadership role in the opposition group but denied responsibility for attacks carried out by its armed wing. The trial judges said the two were indistinguishable.

Rights groups say Rusesabagina's jailing is an example of Kagame using authoritarian tactics to crush political opposition and extend his more than two decades in power, allegations the president denies.

Washington has designated him as "wrongly detained", partly because of what it called the lack of fair trial guarantees. Rusesabagina has U.S. permanent residency rights.

In August U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he had raised his concerns with Kagame over the trial. Rwanda has said the trial was lawful.