20 November 2012

Rwanda: Mugesera's Case Resumes On December 17

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 26 days of delay to Leon Mugesera for comprehensive preparation of the trial against him before it starts in substance.

The court granted more time to the genocide suspect due to fact that one of his new lawyers, Gershom Otachi from Kenya, was accredited by Kigali Bar Association a bit late - only four days before the trial resumes. This was one of the reasons raised by Mugesera who had requested for 48 more days on Monday.

"The argument was well-founded because Otachi couldn't prepare the case before getting his accreditation," said Athanase Bakuzakundi, the presiding judge. "Four days were not enough for preparation due to the nature of the case."

Therefore, the presiding judge announced that the court ruled the trial adjourned until December 17 of this year.

However, the court found baseless other arguments given by the defense team. Mugesera and his lawyers had on Monday told the court that the accused lost 48 days; saying that he couldn't read a 40,000-page file from Canada by using the laptop he had been given. He said it was lacking a running system.

But the court refuted the argument saying that Mugesera had not presented the issue when, in September, he was given two months to go through the document. Instead, he asked for other accessories such as a flash disk and printer among others.

Mugesera had also requested the court to order the prosecution to provide translation versions of his indictment document to his foreign lawyers, but the court clarified it that it's not in prosecution's duties to do so since they have already given the document.

The prosecution, headed by the Prosecutor General Martin Ngoga, had requested the court to commence the trial, saying that the defense team couldn't elaborate substantively what prevented the accused to prepare his case.

After the court announced adjournment, Ngoga, who used to not attend trials, couldn't comment much on the court's decision.

Commenting on his sudden presence in such trials, he said that "these are international cases that need more attention."

Asked whether Mugesera's case will last for long time as he battled for 17 years in Canadian courts before he was deported to Rwanda on January 24, the prosecutor general replied that "it can't even be seven years."

Mugesera is accused of masterminding the Genocide, inciting people to exterminate Tutsis and spreading hate among people.

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