23 January 2013

Rwanda: I Was Never Influential, Mugesera Tells Court

Photo: John Mbanda/The New Times
Genocide suspect Leon Mugesera (left) with his lawyer.

Genocide suspect Leon Mugesera yesterday told the Special Chamber of the High Court that he was not an influential person in the genocidal party, the National Republican Movement for Democracy and Development (MRND).

MRND was the ruling political party of Rwanda from 1975 to 1994 under President Juvénal Habyarimana. The elite group of MRND party was known to have influence on the president as well as being responsible for the planning of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

During his second day of his defence, Mugesera countered what prosecution had produced as 'undoubtable evidence' against his role in the Genocide.

Prosecution, which rested its submission last week, had presented audio tapes and transcripts of a 1992 speech attributed to Mugesera. In the speech that the court heard, last week, Mugesera is accused of using the word Inyenzi repeatedly in an address to the locals in former Gisenyi prefecture.

"On several occasions, there were attempts to suspend me from the party and, at one point, I was actually suspended because I had criticised the President. I was later recalled and got my professional job as a lecturer, which I had also lost," Mugesera said at the five-hour session yesterday.

Mugesera is charged with 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.

Although MRND is widely known to have been responsible for preparing and implementing the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, Mugesera argued that it was a party that focused mainly on development.

In his speech in Gisenyi prefecture, which the prosecution is using as prime evidence, Mugesera asked the court to put in context the whole speech without picking out bits.

In the speech, Mugesera propagated the notion that Tutsis were cockroaches and not Rwandans, and that they were to be deported to Abyssinia via Nyabarongo.

On Monday, Mugesera argued that historians and prosecution in Canada established that inyenzi is a name Rwandan refugees gave themselves before they attacked Rwanda in 1959.

Prosecution said there are witnesses to testify against Mugesera, who is expected to continue his defence today.

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