31 January 2013

Rwanda: Remember Nzirorera, Mugesera Warns Court

Leon Mugesera, appearing before the High Court again on Thursday, issued a thinly-veiled warning to the judges that they would be in trouble if they did not grant him medical leave.

The trial had already been suspended for two days on Tuesday, despite the fact that the medical attest he presented was not valid. Yet on Thursday, Mugesera requested more time saying he was still not feeling well. He then followed up by issuing a warning to the judges, reminding them of what had happened to Joseph Nzirorera at the ICTR in Arusha.

Nzirorera, former president of the national assembly and secretary-general of the MRND, was being tried together with other MRND heavyweights when on July 1, 2010 the court hearing at the international tribunal had to be suspended because he felt unwell. He died later that day, and the ICTR attributed his death to complications of a long illness.

Mugesera then implied that if the same would happen to him, the judges would be in trouble. "I don't want you to witness the same scenario; let me remind this court that in case something happens to me, it will violate the agreement Rwanda has signed with Canada in relation with my trial."

Prosecutor general Martin Ngoga objected, saying that the accused did not bring any medical certificate. "If the defendant is still sick, let him produce the proof or else we continue with the trial," he said. "This is abuse of court procedures."

Ngoga also informed the judges that the prison services had proposed Mugesera to take him to King Faycal hospital for treatment, yet the latter refused saying it was for a doctor to make this decision.

"I don't understand what the defendant is talking about, the same treatment was also given to Victoire Ingabire and Jean Uwinkindi. King Faycal hospital is the best we have in the country," Ngoga pointed out.

In the end, the presiding judge granted Leon Mugesera further medical leave, announcing that the hearings will resume next Monday.

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