Rwanda’s prosecution going for life in genocide suspect Mugesera’s case

Leone Mugesera

Leone Mugesera

Rwanda’s prosecution has asked court to have high profile genocide suspect Leon Mugesera sentenced to life, for the his involvement in the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi.

Léon Mugesera is accused of being one of the representatives of “Hutu Power” an extremist Hutu movement founded by relatives of former president Juvenal Habyarimana, which claimed unlimited authority to plan and implement the infamous Tutsi purge from nearly all government institutions.

Prosecution argues that Mugesera’s verbal statements in 1992 propelled genocide activities in 1994, he was involved in the planning of genocide, and that he has been ‘playing games’ in the course of his trial to delay the proceedings..

On 22 November 1992, whilst he was Vice-President of the MRND in Gisenyi prefecture, Mugesera allegedly gave a speech before 1,000 people in Kabaya in the western province, in which he said that the Tutsi should be forced to return to Ethiopia which, according to Hutu propaganda, is their country of origin.

At the same event, witnesses in the case say that he notoriously called for the massive killing of Inyenzi or cockroaches (a derogatory term describing Tutsi).

Mugesera however, said last week during a court appearance that the witnesses have a hidden agenda against him.

Since the commencement of his trial, Mugesera has denied those statements had no role in genocide saying that he was only making remarks to common Rwandans at the public gathering.

The cases been postponed on several occasions due to the suspect’s claims of sickness, lack of proper legal representation, and denying any knowledge of the accusations.

For the above reasons and evidence presented to court, Prosecutor Claudine Dushimimana, said that the suspect should get a life sentence according to article 13, and 17 of the constitution.

However, Mugesera, who looked shocked at the prosecutors appeal, said that the court has asked the prosecution to comment on his case, but not decide his fate.

“Let the prosecution respect court, everything has its time, we haven’t reached that stage,” he said.

The trial has adjourned until July 30, when Mugesera will try to counter the prosecution’s request.

Delays in this case have also been due to the fact that the suspect’s lawyers have on several occasions, abandoned the case and some members of his defense team have failed to show up at trial.

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.

He is believed to be one of the senior politicians responsible for planning and executing the genocide.

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