20 November 2012

Rwanda: Mugesera Granted 27-Day Trial Extension

Photo: Timothy Kisambira
Léon Mugesera being handcuffed (file photo): Mugesera, a linguist and former politician, is accused of incitement to genocide in a 1992 speech. He was extradited from Canada after a 15-year battle against extradition.

The High Court yesterday granted Genocide suspect, Leon Mugesera, 27 days for his defence counsel to prepare before the trial can commence in substance.

Mugesera had on Monday appeared before Judge Athanase Bakuzakundi seeking a trial adjournment of 48 days on grounds that his new lawyer, Gershom Otachi, needed more time to study his 40,000-page case file from Canada.

Otachi, a Kenyan national, has previously worked as a defence attorney at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).

"Considering the complexity of this case, and also putting in account that, one of Mugesera's lawyers, Otachi, was accredited on November 16, four days before he appeared in Court, the court finds this the only genuine reason for the extension of the hearing. This case will resume on December 17," said Bakuzakundi as he read the court decision.

Although Mugesera had presented a list of reasons as to why he wanted a lengthy extension, the court turned all of them down and only considered that of his lawyer.

Prosecution had objected to Mugesera's request for an adjournment.

In a speech he gave in 1992, Mugesera, a linguist, allegedly called Tutsis "cockroaches" and "scum," and encouraged his fellow Hutus to kill them.

He was deported from Canada in January 2012 following legal and political battles he staged as he fought extradition.

Since his deportation, Mugesera, who is remanded at Kigali Central Prison, managed to obtain several adjournments on grounds he was still putting together his defence team.

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