22 January 2013

Rwanda: Mugesera Alleges Speech Was Taken Out of Context

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

On the third day of the trial in substance against Leon Mugesera, the defendant argued that his infamous speech in Kabaya (then Gisenyi prefecture) in November 1992 has been misinterpreted and many phrases have been taken out of context.

The speech is one of the main incriminating elements in the prosecution's case, and part of the basis for the accusations against Mugesera of inciting the masses to partake in genocide, planning and preparing the genocide, conspiracy in the crime of genocide, torture as a crime against mankind, and inciting hatred among people.

"I would like to correct what people keep taking out of context and misinterpreting in the speech. It is generally obvious that words and events are related to their immediate context," Mugesera said.

While presenting his objection he accused the prosecution to have quoted his famous speech out of context. "In law what is not always fully appreciated is the need to consider the whole background to the immediate context, not to pick one point in the introduction of the speech and also another one in the middle of the speech, this distorted the meaning and context," the defendant argued.

Mugesera said that picking parts of his speech from different areas is like creating a new speech which distorts the meaning behind the original. He also told the court that the speech alone cannot prove responsibility for genocide. The academician, who was deported from Canada last year, said that he does not understand how the speech played a role to the genocide since he delivered it two years earlier.

"There is nothing that links me to the actual killings," he pointed out.

He also refuted the prosecution's allegation that he was linked to the famous Radio Télévision Libre des Mille Collines (RTLM). "The accusations are baseless since the radio was created when I had already left Rwanda," Mugesera explained.

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