Rwanda: Genocide suspect Mugesera case deadlocked, justice ministry summoned

Leone Mugesera

Leon Mugesera

Genocide suspect Dr. Leon Mugesera’s case has hit a dead end as his defence team, the prosecution and the Supreme Court have failed to agree on whether or not to proceed and finalise the 3 year-old case.

Mugesera, whose defence is yet to respond to the prosecution’s request that he be sentenced to life in prison for his role in the 1994 genocide, has told court he is too weak and sick to continue with the trial.

He appeared in court Tuesday, without his lawyer- Jean Felix Rudakemwa, and told court due to his ill health he needs more time before a verdict is reached in the case.

Rudakemwa has also refused to appear in court saying he cannot proceed with the case until consensus of reached between court and the defense team on whether to read the verdict even when the lawyer has not given his position.

In response, court said suspect was playing delaying tactics that have bogged the case since 2012 when the trial began.
Mugesera and his team were expected to rebut the prosecution’s request of the life sentence but the suspect showed up without his lawyer and appeared too frail while responding to court questions, to Wednesday (today).
This Wednesday, the Supreme Court has summoned Rwandan ministry of justice to appear October 5, and explain how the case should proceed. Mugesera’s lawyer has notified the court he will not be appearing until his disagreements with the prosecution are sorted out by the Justice Ministry.

Mugesera and his lawyer say the court has not been helpful to them in the course of the trial, the prosecution on the other hand, says the suspect and his team have not followed proper procedures in seeking all the help they need.

“You claim that I have been helped but how can a senior professor like me write on old and dirty papers like these?” Mugesera told court Wednesday.

In July, Rwanda’s prosecution asked court to have Mugesera sentenced for life, for his involvement in the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi but the suspect and his lawyer haven’t been able to officially respond to this request due to excuses of sickness of both client and the attorney.

Earlier this month, the court fined Mugesera’s lawyer Jean Felix Rudakemwa for the intent of delaying court proceedings by forging a medical leave letter and skipping court appearances.

Since his extradition from Canada and subsequent commencement of his trial in 2012, Mugesera has been playing hardball with the court.

The suspect has at several times claimed he doesn’t speak Kinyarwanda for example, and that he cannot be tried in Kinyarwanda- his mother tongue in which he allegedly addressed the masses to exterminate Tutsis. He instead wanted the case to proceed in French

Mugesera is facing five charges of Genocide-related crimes: inciting masses to partake in Genocide, planning and preparing the Genocide, conspiracy in the crime of Genocide, torture as a crime against mankind, and inciting hatred among people.