20 November 2012

Rwanda: Mugesera Wants 48-Day Trial Extension

Photo: T. Kisambira/ The New Times
Leo Mugesera, far right, speaking to his lawyers in court.

Genocide suspect, Leon Mugesera, yesterday requested the High Court to grant him 48 days to study documents concerning his case.

Appearing in court yesterday, Mugesera, said the days granted to him earlier weren't enough.

"I calculated the days since the court granted me two months to the day the prison services changed its system of frequently checking my laptop for maintenance and observed that I lost 48 days, its these days that I base on to pray that court postpones the trial to January 07, 2013," said Mugesera.

Mugesera also complained to the court about the delay by the Kigali Bar Association to accredit one of his lawyers, Gershom Otachi.

Otachi, who was in court yesterday, told court that he was cleared by the bar association only four days ago.

"I can't do anything now since it's my first time in this court. There is no doubt that the nature of work in this case is enormous, and the desire for my client to have many lawyers is legitimate."

Mugesera also asked the court to order the prosecution to translate his 40,000 indictment document as a request by one of his lawyers, Mellisa Kanas.

In September the court had granted Mugesera two months to prepare his case and ordered that he be availed with a laptop, a printer and a memory stick.

Mugesera faulted the Prison Services who frequently carry out maintenance works on his laptop for maintenance and that he uses a shared printer to print his documents, a thing he says violates his right of confidentiality.

One of Mugesera's lawyers, Felix Rudakemwa, requested court to also put into consideration that his client doesn't know how to use a computer and that he needs more time to become accustomed to it.

When he took the floor, the lead prosecutor who is also the Prosecutor General, Martin Ngoga, requested the court not to grant the adjournment.

"We have observed that there is a communication problem between the accused and his lawyers. His lawyers say he doesn't have a computer but Mugesera says he has it but had issues with how to use it. As a matter of fact, the accused says he got all what he requested for," argued Ngoga.

"It looks like we are about to be asked to teach Mugesera how to use a computer. Being given a computer and using it, are two different things, he may decide not to use it. ...by the way, why did he ask for it when he doesn't know how to use it"?

He pointed out that the issue before the court is not that Mugesera did not get all the logistical support he requested for but instead he had suspicions on how to use them.

"The accused and his counsel have not proved to the court substantively that the prosecution could have access to Mugesera's trial preparations...also, Mugesera was for the last 17 years been in possession of the 40,000 documents, for us the prosecution, we don't need it and don't intend to use it. The trial cannot be adjourned because of something that is not going to be referred to in the trial," he said.

After hearing lengthy exchanges from both the defence and the prosecution, Judge Athanase Bakuzakundi said the court will rule on the matter today morning.

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