Rwanda: no breakthrough in Mugesera’s case as defendant and Justice Ministry spar over facilitation

Leon Mugesera

Leon Mugesera

The case of Rwanda’s high profile genocide suspect, Dr. Leon Mugesera has hit a dead end again as Rwanda’s ministry of justice now claims that the defendant and his lawyer Jean Felix Rudakemwa have not properly sought assistance.

Last week, Mugesera and his lawyer requested the trial be adjourned until the ministry of justice resolves their disagreements with the prosecution, and the Supreme Court. The duo claimed they have been unfairly treated by both the prosecution and the court.

This October 5, court summoned the ministry of justice to explain the alleged concerns and whether or not there have been any negotiations between the defendant and the ministry.

Representatives of the ministry told court Tuesday there has been not been any negotiation with the defendant and his legal team and that they have not been following proper channels and procedures to seek any help.

Appearing before court, the Ministry’s legal team, Theophile Mbonera, Claire Umwari told court neither mugesera nor his lawyer has been following the right procedures for one to get assistance in their case (as a needy person), but Mugesera said that the ministry has the money but holding on to it.

“The ministry has the bread (money) but they don’t want to assist me. I spent a billion francs on my case in Europe, but I don’t need a penny repaid. All I am asking is to give me a piece of that bread,” Mugesera said.

“Yes, the ministry has the money, but you have to follow the procedures. Wash your hands and you will be given what to eat”, Claire Umwari told Mugesera in response.

Mugesera’s lawyer however, insisted that he has not been facilitated and paid well as obliged by the law, and he has been talking to the ministry over this aspect and unless a consensus is reached over this he will not appear in court again.

Mugesera also added that lack of facilitation for his lawyers (one in Rwanda and two others in the US and Canada) is a denial of his rights and indicates the blatant unfairness they have been facing.

The court has ordered Defence lawyer Felix Rudakemwa to continue with the case without fail saying it has been established that they have never been negotiations between him and his client and the ministry of justice over lack of support as the lawyer has claimed.

The court said the ministry has on several occasions sent letters to the lawyer and his client instructing them to follow proper procedures to attain help but the duo chose not to cooperate.

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 humanity, and inciting hatred among people especially with his infamous hate speech made in Kabaya, Ngororero region.

In July, Rwanda’s prosecution requested Mugesera be sentenced to life for his alleged role in the 1994 killings but he and his lawyer are yet to respond to the prosecution’s request.

Mugesera and his attorney have been accused by the prosecution of “delaying tactic” and the court has fined the latter Rwf 500, 000 forging a medical leave letter in order to skip court.