Rwanda Focus (Kigali)

21 January 2013

Rwanda: Mugesera Says 'Inyenzi' Did Not Refer to Tutsis

Photo: T. Kisambira/ The New Times
Leo Mugesera (far right) talking to his lawyers in court (file photo).

As it was scheduled, Dr Leon Mugesera's defense today started its submission, where the accused himself was given time to explain his case. His trial in substance opened last Thursday at the Special Chamber of the High Court.

Yet Mugesera questioned the fact that he had to provide his explanations while witnesses for the prosecution had not yet been heard. The presiding judge nevertheless asked him to go ahead.

The explanations that Mugesera started giving are linked to his speech.

Concerning his infamous speech pronounced in 1992 at Kabaya (former Gisenyi, actual Western province) on which most of the accusations are based, Mugesera explained issues related to the words he used. He said that when he mentioned 'Inyenzi' ('cockroaches,' a word used at the time referring to Tutsis) it was not to mean Tutsis.

"I didn't mean Tutsis. I couldn't do that because even among my ancestors, whom I respect very much, there is one called Semanyenzi," Mugesera said adding that through his speech, he wanted to explain that Rwanda's political problems at the time could be solved only through democratic elections.

Mugesera continued to explain his speech word by word while he was requested (by the court) to explain and try to defend himself against the accusations themselves. The court repeated its request, already made on Thursday, to enter a guilty or not guilty plea, but the accused did not respond.

Leon Mugesera was accused last Friday by the prosecution of having distributed guns to the youth in Kabaya (actual Western province) ahead of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. He was also accused of having used derogative language to refer to Agathe Uwiringiyimana, the former prime minister.

Mugesera is charged with inciting Genocide, planning and preparing the Genocide, conspiracy in the crime of Genocide, torture as a crime against humanity, and inciting hatred among people.

The Prosecution presented evidence showing that Mugesera used to go to different meetings telling people that Tutsis were not Rwandans and should return to Abyssinia via the Nyabarongo River because they were accomplices of the 'Inyenzi.'

According to the witnesses, Mugesera's speeches always resulted in massacres, an example being a family of eight being killed.

Prosecutor general Martin Ngoga is expected to hear 46 witnesses, while there are 92 for the defense, according to Jean Felix Rudakemwa, Mugesera's deputy lawyer.

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InFocus

Rwandan Genocide Suspect Denies Claims

Leo Mugesera (far right) talking to his lawyers in court (file photo).

Leon Mugesera has denied accusations made by the prosecution that he provided ammunition to a militia group during the 1994 genocide. Read more »