17 September 2012

Rwanda: Genocide Suspect Seeks Further Trial Delay

Genocide suspect Leon Mugesera yesterday requested the High Court more time to study documents concerning his dossier.

During the beginning of his trial in substance, Mugesera's lawyer, Jean-Felix Rudakemwa, explained they would need the time to study the whole dossier from the prosecution since the one they received had some pages missing.

He, therefore, prayed court to delay the case until they are ready to stand trial, a request which was contested by the prosecution.

Appearing before the High Court which convened at the Supreme Court premises, Mugesera who stood next to his lawyer, presented a list of reasons as to why he wanted the court to stay the hearing.

"We filed a suit in the Supreme Court of which we are waiting a decision. But also, the dossier we received from the prosecution had some missing pages which the prosecution gave us recently and we haven't reviewed all of them," Rudakemwa told court.

However, the Prosecution led by Jean Bosco Mutangana requested the judge not to consider the request, saying it was baseless.

"The Supreme Court decision cannot affect this trial whatsoever, what is happening in the Supreme Court is about the pre-trial, anytime it comes, it won't affect this trial. This is the same situation in the case of Victoire Ingabire, where she also challenged a certain law in the Supreme Court but her trial proceeded at the High Court," said Mutangana.

The Defence also pointed out that one of the reasons why they request an adjournment is that from pages 610 to 646 of the case file are not visually clear and that they need a prosecutor to work with on the unclear part.

"We also request the prosecution to translate the whole 1,700 page dossier from Kinyarwanda to English and French so that Mugesera's foreign lawyers can read and understand it. We also want the prosecution to give us a hard copy of the Canadian dossier which is 40,000 pages," lawyer Rudakemwa requested Judge Athanase Bakuzakundi.

In his submissions, Mutangana told court that the same dossier that Mugesera has is the exact one that was given to the court, adding that everything is visually clear on the pages that Mugesera's lawyer mentioned.

"The translation is impossible because the court ruled that Mugesera's trial will be conducted in Kinyarwanda, also the court can't operate in anticipation, and none of the foreign lawyers has appeared in court," he argued.

"Regarding the hard copy, the Prosecution is not going to print the 40,000-page Canadian dossier since it is not our responsibility, he asked for the dossier we gave it to him on two CDs exactly as the Canadians gave them to us, and on top of that, we also gave him a laptop to read the CDs," Mutangana said.

Mugesera's lawyer had asked the court to postpone the hearing for six months but his client objected, saying the six months was a very short time since there is much he needed to do that is in line with preparing his defence.

The court will announce its decision on the defence's request today.

Mugesera is accused of making an infamous speech in 1992 that allegedly played a major role in sparking the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, in which radical ethnic Hutus killed more than one million Tutsis.

He was deported from Canada in January this year after losing a legal battle that lasted close to two decades.

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