Prisons body refutes media reports about Genocide convict Mugesera

Officials from Rwanda Correctional Services (RCS) have dismissed allegations that Genocide convict Leon Mugesera’s health is deteriorating and has been denied access to medical treatment.
RCS commissioner General George Rwigamba addresses the media on Wednesday. / Courtesy
RCS commissioner General George Rwigamba addresses the media on Wednesday. / Courtesy

Officials from Rwanda Correctional Services (RCS) have dismissed allegations that Genocide convict Leon Mugesera’s health is deteriorating and has been denied access to medical treatment.

This follows claims in the Canadian publication called La Presse, in which Mugesera’s family and lawyer claim he suffers from hypotension and has cataracts in both eyes with a risk of blindness and has been denied treatment.

Besides, the report claimed that Mugesera, who is serving a life sentence after he was convicted of crimes related to the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, has been denied access to his lawyer.

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 against his extradition to Rwanda to face Genocide related charges.

He is incarcerated at Mpanga Prison, an internationally accredited facility based in Nyanza District in the Southern Province.

Addressing the media on Wednesday the RCS Commissioner General George Rwigamba, said the allegations that Mugesera was critically ill are baseless and in bad taste, saying that the convict is healthy and that has always been granted access to his lawyer whenever he wished so.

“Mugesera’s health is perfect and he has an open access to his lawyer, whenever his lawyer wants to visit him, he has always been given access,” Rwigamba said during a news conference at the RCS head office in Kicukiro District.

Rwigamba said Mugesera has his own room and other facilities such as a toilet and has a right of choice of daily meals and has access to treatment but he always complains.

“You cannot change one’s nature, he is always complicated, we have health centres in all prisons where primary healthcare services are offered and where the ailment is complicate, a transfer is procured through prescribed procedures but he always complains saying he wants to go to King Faisal Hospital,” said Rwigamba.

According to his family, Mugesera had only made one medical visit since he was transferred to Mpanga Prison a year and half ago.

Chief Inspector of Prisons Hillary Sengabo, the RCS spokesperson explained that the article from La Presse was premised on rumors and that RCS was never given an opportunity to comment.

“We were not given time to comment on the story, the writer used social media (Twitter) to ask for information about Mugesera’s health and we asked him to follow normal procedures…but as we waited for him to get back to us, he published the baseless story,” he said.

RCS officials also said that Mugesera’s lawyer Jean-Felix Rudakemwa came to the prison after visiting hours which start from 8:00a.m to 3:00p.m according to the prison schedule.

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