President Paul Kagame will exercise his prerogative of mercy to commute the sentence of jailed terror convict Paul Rusesabagina, after the latter wrote seeking a presidential pardon.
The development also follows back-to-back negotiations that are believed to have involved at least three countries.
According to reliable sources, Rusesabagina will be released together with Callixte Nsabimana who calls himself Sankara, and other convicts who were enjoined in a widely-publicized trial linked to FLN, a terror group that was founded by Rusesabagina.
Sources indicate that in releasing him, the President will be acting on a letter written by Rusesabagina atoning for his crimes and seeking a presidential pardon.
He is expected to be let out of Nyarugenge Prison, which is commonly known as Mageragere, as early as Saturday, March 25, according to sources.
Rusesabagina engineered the establishment of an outfit called MRCD, which has political oversight of the FLN terror group that operates in the east of DR Congo, and is responsible for a series of terror attacks on Rwandan territory.
The attacks took place in south-western Rwanda, within and around Nyungwe forest. At least nine people were killed, while others were left injured and property looted or destroyed.
The release of the terror convicts is expected to be announced by the Minister of Justice, following a cabinet meeting to be held later on Friday, March 24, according to reliable sources.
Rusesabagina’s letter seeking pardon, which according to a US-based publication was prepared by him in consultation with his lawyers both in Rwanda and the United States, will be available to the media.
The negotiations to release Rusesabagina, according to sources, involved Rwanda, the United States and the Kingdom of Qatar.
Qatar is expected to take care of the logistical requirements that will eventually see Rusesabagina eventually rejoin his family in the U.S.
“Following his release, he will be taken care of in Qatar and will in a few days be flown to the Gulf country before he goes to the United States,” the highly placed source said, preferring to remain anonymous.
The source emphasized that what would happen is a commutation of the convicts’ sentences but the convictions for their respective crimes still stand.
Similarly, the reparations awarded to victims of the terror attacks will also remain in force, according to the source.
Rusesabagina, who was arrested in August 2020, was sentenced to 25 years by the High Court’s Chamber for International and Cross Border Crimes, which was upheld by the Court of Appeal.
For Sankara, who was a vocal spokesperson of FLN, his 20-year sentence was reduced on appeal to 15 years, owing to a number of mitigating factors, including his cooperation with court.
Meanwhile, among the conditions for his release, Rusesabagina committed to among others disengage from all political activities.
It is believed the US government also committed to ensure the convict respects the terms of his release.
President Kagame recently hinted at the ongoing efforts to grant clemency to Rusesabagina when he told a US-based newspaper that “no situation remains permanent”.
He added that Rwanda has previously released people who committed the most heinous crimes during the Genocide against the Tutsi.
It is believed that only one convict Angelina Mukandutiye, who is the only woman among the 21 suspects, will not be released because of a pending conviction for her role in the Genocide against the Tutsi.
Mukandutiye was convicted by a Gacaca court for participating in the Genocide in different suburbs of Kigali, mainly in Nyarugenge district where she worked as an inspector of schools.