25 December 2012

Rwanda: High Court Rejects Mugesera's New Demands

Photo: Timothy Kisambira
Léon Mugesera being handcuffed upon arrival at Kigali International Airport (file photo).

THE Special Chamber of the High Court trying cases transferred from the ICTR and other countries, yesterday, rejected a plea from genocide suspect Leon Mugesera not to try his case.

Mugesera, transferred from Canada early this year, had questioned the competence of the court saying that the mandate of the court gives it competence to try crimes committed between January 1, 1994 and December 31, 1994 yet he is accused of crimes committed in 1992.

Mugesera, a former lecturer in linguistic, committed the crimes mainly through an incendiary speech he gave in western Rwanda inciting the killing of Tutsis across the country, saying that they should be killed and dumped into River Nyabarongo, a tributary of the Nile that would, according to him, send them to Ethiopia where he said they hailed.

"When Mugesera was being transferred to Rwanda, the Canadian authorities knew very well that he was accused of crimes committed in 1992 and he would be tried in the special chamber, it is on this note that the court rejects his demands," said Judge Athanase Bakuzakundi.

Mugesera immediately announced that he would appeal to the Supreme Court.

In his challenge of the competence of the court, Mugesera was pushing for his trial to be rendered null and void, because the crimes he is accused of were committed in 1992.

These demands were, however, dismissed by Prosecution which pointed out that article 3 of the same organic law on the transfers of suspects from ICTR and other jurisdictions that was passed in 2007, gives room for suspects to be tried under local legislations, much as they may have been transferred to Rwanda under the special legislation.

Mugesera is accused of five crimes, namely, inciting the masses to take part in genocide, planning and preparing the genocide, conspiracy in the crime of genocide, torture as a crime against mankind, and inciting hatred among people.

In 1992, Mugesera taught linguistics at the National University of Rwanda, Nyakinama Capus in the Northern Province, and was the vice chairman for genocidal political party, MRND, in Gisenyi Prefecture.

In a speech he gave on November 22, Mugesera told 1000 party members that "we the people are obliged to take responsibility ourselves and wipe out this scum" and that they should kill Tutsis and "dump their bodies into the rivers of Rwanda."

Following this speech, an arrest warrant was issued on the grounds that he incited hatred. He fled with his family to Quebec City in Quebec, Canada.

In Canada, Mugesera managed to fight a deportation battle for nearly 20 years.

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