Leon Mugesera gets life term for Genocide crimes

Leon Mugesera has been handed life sentence by the High Court after he was found guilty of crimes related to the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
Mugesera (R) consults with his lawyers Gershom Otachi (L) and Felix Rudakemwa during his trial. (File)
Mugesera (R) consults with his lawyers Gershom Otachi (L) and Felix Rudakemwa during his trial. (File)

Léon Mugesera has been handed life sentence by the High Court after he was found guilty of crimes related to the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

Mugesera, 64, served as the deputy chairman and special advisor to the former ruling party, MRND, that orchestrated the Genocide.

 

He was deported from Canada in 2012 after a long battle fighting his extradition to Rwanda to face Genocide related charges.

 

The court ruled that he was guilty of multiple counts, including incitement to commit Genocide, inciting ethnic hatred and persecution as a crime against humanity.

 

He was, however, cleared of charges related to preparing and planning the Genocide and conspiracy in Genocide after the court found there was not enough evidence to convict.

The four-hour long verdict was based mainly on hate speech, especially a virulent speech he delivered in 1992 during a party meeting in Kabaya (in the former Gisenyi Prefecture in the current Western Province).

In the speech aimed at stirring up killings, he referred to the Tutsi as cockroaches that should be killed and sent back to Ethiopia via Nyabarongo, a tributary of the river Nile.

Presiding Judge Antoine Muhima made references to a number of treaties ratified by Rwanda, the Penal code and other pieces of legislation criminalizing Genocide.

The court further pointed out that Leon Mugesera was an intellectual who was fully aware of the consequences of delivering the speech in Kabaya and Nyamyumba and that the gravity of charges deserved no less than life imprisonment.

The court stated that the motivation for his speech was to get rid of Tutsis. It heard from witnesses who proved that a series of killings that took place shortly after the infamous speech targeted Tutsis.

During the hearing, the Court also heard from witnesses who spoke of how Mugesera had called on Hutus to exterminate Tutsis because living with them was like accommodating a venomous snake.

The trial that has lasted four years comes as a partial relief to Rwandans who took to social media to welcome the verdict. 

The 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi left more than one million dead.

Mugesera said he would appeal the sentence.

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PORTRAIT OF GUILT

* Léon Mugesera, 64, served as deputy chairman and special advisor to the former ruling party, MRND, that orchestrated the Genocide.

* He was deported from Canada in 2012 after a long battle fighting his extradition to Rwanda to face Genocide related charges.

* Guilty of incitement to commit genocide, inciting ethnic hatred and persecution as a crime against humanity, among others.

editorial@newtimes.co.rw

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