High Court adjourns Mugesera appeal
Prosecutor General Martin Ngoga, yesterday, expressed disappointment over a decision by the High Court to delay by a week, an appeal process in the trial of Genocide suspect Leon Mugesera.
This happened as the accused, together with his lawyer, decided to file an amended version of his submission, different from what he had filed on Friday last week, and whose copy had been obtained by prosecutors.
The accused petitioned the High Court challenging a decision by the Nyarugenge Intermediate Court which had ruled that he be interrogated in Kinyarwanda, a language in which he gave an inflammatory speech in 1992.
Mugesera has requested that he be interrogated in French, while prosecution insists on using Kinyarwanda throughout the same process.
Yesterday, he requested for the case to be delayed for a week to give time prosecutors to respond to his submissions in writing and have him get enough time to go through their response.
This was subsequently granted by Judge Athanase Bakuzakunda, who presided over the proceedings at the High Court main chambers in Kimihurura, adjourning the case to next week on April 23.
This, however, was not welcomed by prosecutors, as they insisted they were ready for trial even with the amended submission from the defendant.
“What is going on is getting closer to what happened in Canada prior to his deportation…he has deployed the same tactics of avoiding the substance of what he stands accused of,” said Ngoga.
Prosecution insists that the suspect’s insistence on using French is a decoy to water down his incendiary speech, which they maintain is critical within the substantive case.
Mugesera was deported to Rwanda from Canada in January this year after exhausting all judicial avenues to block this process, taking close to two decades.
He is mainly accused of having given the inflammatory speech in which he called upon the Hutu to eliminate the Tutsi whom he called various derogatory names like ‘scum’ or cockroaches.
“I think he could be heading to a situation where he may even boycott the case because his Kabaya speech is so bitter and notorious for him to confront even if it is his own,” said Ngoga.
He added; “We should be prepared for all these scenarios.”
However, when contacted, Mugesera’s lawyer, Donat Mutunzi, said there was nothing new in the document they presented to court yesterday morning.
“All we did was proofreading and correcting typos and other minor mistakes in the earlier document…nothing of substance was changed in our submission,” Mutunzi said in a subsequent interview.
Meanwhile, Mugesera is still on remand for over two months now, and has during the two previous appearances before Nyarugenge Intermediate Court, requested for more time as he puts together his team of attorneys, before the case starts in substance.
He has hinted at the fact that he would be represented by a team of nine lawyers, including foreign ones.
He is currently detained at Kigali Central Prison commonly known as 1930.
Contact email: felly.kimenyi[at]newtimes.co.rw