Rwandan defense attorney accused of forgery

The defense lawyer representing one of Rwanda’s top genocide Dr. Leon Mugesera has been accused of forging sick leave documents with intent to delay the trial of his client.

Prosecutors told court this week that Lawyer Jean Felix Rudakemwa, had forged medical documents by persuading one of the doctors to write one, while in reality he was not sick.

The doctor (names withheld) who wrote and signed the sick leave letter on September 6, for Rudakemwa said in a court statement that she was not aware of its purpose but went ahead and did what the lawyer requested.

Court judge Béatrice Mukamurenzi said the investigation shows that the lawyer was not sick at the time he skipped the high profile trial.

Rudakemwa denies the allegations by the prosecution saying that he had valid sick leave papers from a professional doctor and didn’t have intent to delay the case.

The court has not ruled on the issue but it is likely to dominate the next court session next week.
Most Rwandan lawyers have been accused of the practice, especially in genocide related cases, to which government is said to be losing billions in such cases over alleged delaying tactics by lawyers during court proceedings.

Apart from Leon Mugesera (extradited from Canada), the government of Rwanda also pays for defense teams of suspects Charles Bandora (Norway), and Bernard Munyagishari, who were also transferred from the ICTR.

Justice Minister Johnston Busingye, has previously raised concerned of lawyers playing “delaying tactics” aimed at siphoning millions of francs from the taxpayer since the longer the case drags on, the more money lawyers stand to earn.

Similar cases have been sighted in the case of another top genocide suspect, Jean Uwinkindi whose two laywers -Gatera Gashabana and Jean Baptiste Niyibizi were reprimanded by the High Court for deliberately delaying the trial.

Genocide suspects also have been accused of the same delaying tactics; a number of them have on several occasions claimed to not understanding their mother tongue, and official language of the court, Kinyarwanda, requesting the court to conduct their trials in French, a fact that has resulted into adjournment.