7 February 2013

Rwanda: Mugesera Uses Ruzibiza, Reyntjens and Bruguière for His Defense

Prosecutor General Martin Ngoga yesterday asked the presiding judge in Leon Mugesera's trial to prevent him from wasting the court's time by bringing up facts that are not relevant to the charges against him.

He made the remarks after Mugesera spent the whole of Wednesday using Abdul Ruzibiza's the book 'Rwanda: The Secret History' for his defense.

"In court you're supposed to mention relevant facts but the defendant is just referring to authors whose credibility is in doubt," Ngoga said.

Mugesera also cited Philippe Reyntjens, Pierre Péant, and Eric Giret to accuse the Rwandan Patriotic Army (RPA) of assassinations and human rights abuses. He also referred to the discredited report by French judge Jean-Louis Bruguière.

Ngoga however questioned the credibility of these authors. "Will these authors come to the stand as experts? If they can't be called as experts, why are we wasting our time listening to these irrelevant references?"

Yet Mugesera defended his choice. "The prosecutor general just used the word irrelevant, but the people who wrote these books are authorities in their fields of investigations and for that matter I find them to be credible in this case."

On the question of whether they should appear as witnesses, Mugesera remained vague. "When we get to that point we will look into it. But at moment their references, according to me, have sufficient competence".

Mugesera then suggested that the prosecution is afraid that he might make information public which the government wants to be kept secret. "The prosecution is not happy with me revealing these secrets, that's why the prosecutor general kept objecting because it happens to irritate him."

The presiding judge for his part said that it is not yet up to the court to assess the validity of the defendant's arguments, but rather give him the opportunity to bring up whatever he thinks can help him to make his case.

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