28 January 2013

Rwanda: Prosecution Accuses Mugesera of Bringing Up Irrelevant Issues

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

The trial in substance against Leon Mugesera, which was suspended last Wednesday due to the defendant's illness, resumed yesterday before the High Court.

Last week Mugesera had started his defense, arguing that the speech he gave in 1992 in Kabaya (then Gisenyi prefecture) was taken out of context and misinterpreted. The speech is one of the main elements used by the prosecution to prove its accusations of incitation to Genocide.

On Monday, the defendant continued his defense by describing the RPF's attack against the Habyarimana regime in the early 90; he also dwelt on the role of the UN Security Council.

This however exasperated prosecutor general Martin Ngoga, who accused Mugesera of delaying the proceedings by talking about things not related to the case. "The defendant is just giving the court open-ended statements; your honor, these kind objections will never have an end, the prosecutions asks the court to give a well-defined structure for the proceedings."

Yet Mugesera countered that what he was saying is relevant. "You have been quoting the speech out of context, now when I try to give the context, the prosecution shouldn't say that I am wasting time; be patient while I try to correct the mistakes in your accusations," he said.

The presiding judge agreed, saying that Mugesera has the right to bring up whichever issue as long as he believes it paints a picture of the context to his case.

Mugesera also informed the court that that in the near future he is planning to call as a witness Boutros Boutros-Ghali, UN secretary general in the 90s, and his successor Kofi Anan, who was the head of UN Peacekeeping Operations at the time, to explain why they didn't intervene to protect Rwandans.

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