The Independent (Kampala)

Uganda: Mugesera Blames UN, Canada for Genocide

In a surprise move, Leon Mugesera, who is battling five counts of genocide-related crimes, has told court the crimes would not have happened if Canada, the country which hosted him for 20 years, and the international community failed to intervene.

"I agree with what the government has been saying that the international community, the UN Security Council and countries like Canada are to blame for the genocide in Rwanda," Mugesera said in court.

"They abandoned us at a time when the country needed them most and I am very sure that if they had intervened, then the blood that spilled in 1994 would not have happened," he added.

The former Vice President of the Mouvement Républicain National Pour la Démocratie et le Développement (MNRD), said he was part of a three man delegation headed by Fidele Kundabagenzi who went to North America in late October 1990 to solicit support from countries like Canada to stop "Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni from letting his army attack a sovereign country."

"As you can see, I never mentioned anywhere that a certain ethnic tribe had attacked Rwanda. What I stressed is that the Ugandan army had invaded Rwanda and that a UN force should be put on the common border of the two countries,"Mugesera said trying to justify his claim that he never called Rwanda Patriotic Army (RPA) soldiers who had attacked Rwanda in 1990 by derogatory names.

Irrelevant issues?

Mugesera said that a subpoena should be issued to Boutros Boutros Ghali, who was the UN Secretary General from 1992-96 and Kofi Annan who was the head of the UN Peace keeping operations during the time that genocide was taking place in Rwanda.

A subpoena is a court order summoning a person to appear at a trial. Mugesera says that both men should be asked questions on why they did not do anything to prevent the genocide yet they knew before hand that it was very likely to happen.

"I urge this court or any other in the country to summon Boutros Boutros Ghali and Kofi Annan to appear before this court and answer many questions related to the genocide that happened in 1994," the genocide suspect said.

The Prosecution led by Martin Ngoga, the Prosecutor General, has blamed the defendant for bringing up irrelevant issues during his trial and thereby delaying the proceedings.

"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."

But Mugesera countered that saying: "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.

Presiding Judge Athanase Bakuzakundi, who Mugesera had initially not wanted to preside over the trial before being overruled by the High Court 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.

Since the genocide many countries have extradited many genocide fugitives to face trial in Rwanda, while others have apologised for their role in the killings which claimed over one million lives.

In a news conference on May 4, 1998, Kofi Annan, who was under secretary-general for peacekeeping at the time of the genocide, said:

«I agree with (UNAMIR Force Commander) General Dallaire when he says, 'If I had had one reinforced brigade - 5,000 men - well trained and well equipped, I could have saved thousands of lives'.»

On a visit to Africa in March 1998, former U.S President Clinton admitted that the world «did not act quickly enough» and that «we did not immediately call these crimes by their rightful name - genocide.»

U.S Secretary of State Albright stated that «we - the international community - should have been more active in the early stages of the atrocities in Rwanda.»

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