10 January 2013

Rwanda: Mugesera Rejects Trial Judges

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

Genocide suspect Leon Mugesera deported from Canada early last year, has filed an 'objection for disqualification of two out of the three judges trying him.

On Tuesday Mugesera appeared before the Special Chamber of the High Court for his trial to start in substance but he immediately filed a plea asking for the disqualification of Judges, Athanase Bakuzakundi and Eugene Ndagijimana from the case.

Citing the law relating to the civil, commercial, labour and administrative procedures, he argued that the two judges were not qualified to try him since they had previously tried him in other cases that he lost.

Article 99 of the said laws stipulates a trial judge may be disqualified if he/she has already intervened in the case as a judge, mediator, prosecutor, judicial police officer, party, witness, arbitrator, interpreter, expert or public servant.'

Mugesera's objection for disqualification of judges left the court in shock which immediately adjourned to Wednesday.

When the court resumed yesterday, the judge ordered the hearing to be held in camera, and the judges mentioned by Mugesera were not present in court.

This time, the hearing of Mugesera objection was presided over by Judge Alice Rulisa.

The court is scheduled to announce its decision on Mugesera's objection tomorrow.

The former lecturer of linguistics, 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.

He allegedly committed the crimes mainly through an incendiary speech he gave in western Rwanda, inciting the killing of Tutsis across the country.

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

He fled with his family to Quebec City in Canada. While there, Mugesera managed to fight a deportation battle for nearly 20 years.

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