Mugesera asks court for more time
Leon Mugesera, has asked the Nyarugenge Intermediate Court to give him another month to prepare his defence team.
Mugesera, who looked calm, relaxed and smiling before the court session began lodged his request to Judge Saudah Murererehe, yesterday, as he appeared before court for the second time since his deportation from Canada in January.
Mugesera first appeared before the same court on February 2. At the time, he requested for two months to prepare his defence. The two months elapsed yesterday when he was brought back to court.
“I have not managed to put together my nine-man defence council and I request to be granted another month so that I reach out to all of them,” Mugesera told the court.
He said that his defence council involves two Rwandans, Donat Mutunzi and Vincent Tugirimana, six Canadians and one American.
However, Judge Murererehe, asked Mugesera what would happen if he didn’t get all the nine members of his defence council and if he gave Mutunzi full mandate to represent him throughout the trial.
Mugesera said that by the time one month elapses, he would have confirmed how many people his defence he will be having.
“We facilitated him in all ways to reach out to his lawyers, which he did. He has been in contact with three of his lawyers,” said Ndibwami Rugambwa, on the prosecution team, said.
“We have documented proof signed by Mugesera confirming he has been in contact with his lawyers. He also assigned someone by the names of Prudence Munyeshuri to put together his defence team. And we believe his current lawyer, Mutunzi should have the courtesy to talk to these other defence lawyers,” Rugambwa added.
In a related development, Mugesera’s lawyer, Donat Mutunzi, claimed that his client was not interrogated by the prosecution.
“My client prefers to be interrogated in French but the prosecution has not allowed him so. Prosecution insists on interrogating him in Kinyarwanda,” said Mutunzi.
Countering, prosecutor Rugambwa said that among the evidence against Mugesera is a speech he gave in 1992 inciting the masses to participate in genocide.
“His speech was in Kinyarwanda, if we change the language, then the context of the crime will be lost. We strongly believe that we keep in the confines of the law and interrogate him in Kinyarwanda,” Rugambwa told the Court.
He made references to some of the cases tried in Kinyarwanda at the Arusha-based International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) where the court believed that the suspect was more conversant with Kinyarwanda than any other language.
“Also the 2007 law related to the transfer of cases from ICTR and other criminals from abroad indicates that the suspect has a right not to respond if he thinks whatever he says would be used against him. In this case, we believe Mugesera decided not to say anything that would be used against him,” Rugambwa added.
The same law stipulates that the suspect should be charged in the language he understands and not the language he opts for. In this case the prosecution said that Mugesera clearly understands Kinyarwanda and for that matter should be interrogated in Kinyarwanda.
The court proceedings were held in Kinyarwanda and Mugesera spoke in the same language.
Prosecution claims Mugesera was given several options on how he can be interrogated but he turned them down. One of the options was for him to respond in French as notes are taken in Kinyarwanda and he would verify the notes before signing.
Mugesera also claimed that he has not been handed a charge sheet but prosecution differed saying that by the time he was questioned by the judicial police he was told of the charges against him which he signed.
Rugambwa listed some of the charges against Mugesera as planning and executing genocide, inciting the public to commit ethnic murder, formation of criminal gang, among others.
“When the judicial police handed him to the Prosecution, we immediately informed him about the charges against him and informed him that he will temporarily be held in the transit facility meant for the ICTR-transferred prisoners. He signed for that.
“Truth is, Mugesera wants to be questioned but he doesn’t want to be questioned on his speech made on November 22, 1992, he also doesn’t want to be questioned on any of his movements on that same date,” said Rugambwa.
Mugesera is accused of planning the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, inciting the public to commit genocide and distribution of weapons.
Much of his charges stem from an incendiary public speech he gave in 1992 in western Rwanda, in which he called upon the Hutu to take up arms and kill the Tutsi.
Following the deliberations that took about four hours, Judge Murererehe adjourned the court to today where she will decide on whether Mugesera should get the extra month or not and if he is to be interrogated in Kinyarwanda or French.
Contact email: edwin.musoni[at]newtimes.co.rw