5 February 2013

Rwanda: Mugesera Using Courtroom to Spread His Propaganda - Prosecution

Prosecutor general Martin Ngoga yesterday accused Leon Mugesera of using the courtroom as a forum to disseminate his propaganda, saying that the defendant was mainly making political statements instead of defending himself with regard to the charges. He added that this was a waste of everyone's time.

"This tactic of making open-ended statements is getting us nowhere, so I would ask the court to use its powers to stop this," Ngoga said.

The prosecutor general made the remarks after Mugesera spent the whole of Tuesday's hearing arguing that the cause of 1994 Genocide against the Tutsis was caused by a foreign aggression, and not by among others the incendiary speech he gave in Gisenyi, which the prosecution is using as prime evidence of his guilt.

Last week, Mugesera announced that he intends to call as witnesses the former general secretary of United nations Boutros Boutros-Ghali, UN secretary general at the time of the Genocide, and his successor Kofi Anan who was in charge of UN peacekeeping operations in 1994, to explain why they didn't intervene when Rwandans where being killed.

This, too, led to Ngoga accusing Mugesera of bringing up issues that are not relevant to the case. "Let us suppose that Uganda attacked Rwanda, as the defendant claims," the prosecutor general said in reply to yesterday's statements. "How does this exonerate him from the speech he gave, how is this linked to the charges against him?"

However, the presiding judge remarked that Mugesera has the right to bring up whichever issue as long as he believes it is relevant to his case. Yet he also observed that the defendant was taking a long time. "I thought that today you would have finished your defense but it seems you still have a lot to present to the court," the judge said.

In reply, Mugesera said that he didn't know how much time he would need to round up his defense in one day, but he asked for one day to better prepare his remaining arguments to save the court's time.

Without any objections from the prosecution, the judge granted him his request and announced that the next hearing is therefore scheduled for Thursday.

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