17 December 2012

Rwanda: Mugesera Trial Resumes Today

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 will today resume hearing the case involving Genocide suspect Leon Mugesera after the expiry of the 27 days that the court had granted him.

Mugesera, who is alleged to have been at the forefront of calling for the massacre of Tutsi during the 1994 Genocide, was early this year deported from Canada, where he had sought refuge.

The High Court had granted him 27 days for his defence counsel to prepare before the trial can commence in substance.

Mugesera has, however, been accused of delaying his trial, coming up with continuous excuses that have made the trial not start in the expected time.

Last month, Mugesera asked High Court Judge, Athanase Bakuzakundi, to grant him 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).

Although Mugesera had presented a list of other 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 militias to kill them.

He was deported from Canada in January 2012, after losing legal and political battles against his 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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