As it appears, it could be the end of the road for Léon Mugesera, after over a decade of fighting futile battles, both in courts and political arenas. The man is poised to be sent to Rwanda to face crimes he committed nearly 20 years ago.
Mugesera, a former lecturer at the National University of Rwanda, infamously known to have penned one of the most virulent speeches inciting Hutus to kill Tutsis, could have been deported in July1996 after the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada decided that his 1992 speech was an incitement to violence and ethnic hatred, and ordered his deportation.
The Canada Border Services Agency has set January 12 as the date for deportation of Mugesera from Canada, years after Canadian immigration authorities decided that he was persona non grata on Canadian soil.
He appealed the decision several times and despite several requests by Rwanda to have him deported, and a positive ruling by the Supreme Court of Canada, Mugesera remained in Canada with his family, lodging aggressive appeals to revoke the decision.
By the look of things however, it appears that Mugesera who lives in Quebec, could finally face deportation to Rwanda within a week-and-a-half’s time.
According to reports in the Canadian press, Mugesera received notice from the Citizenship and Immigration department in early December informing him that his time in Canada was up.
Once deported, Mugesera who left the country in 1992 will be charged with inciting violence and crimes against humanity.
He is wanted for his 1992 incendiary speech regarded as one of the very first calls made by genocide architects to Hutus urging them to “finish” the ‘cockroaches’ (Tutsis) and send them (via River Nyabarongo) back to Abyssinia where he said, they came from.
In his hate speech which was rebroadcast many times during the 1994 Genocide, Mugesera told Hutu’s Militia that “If you don’t cut off their necks, they will cut yours”.
According to Senator Jean Damascene Bizimana, who knew Mugesera at the time, the speech was made on November 17 at Kabaya in Gisenyi Prefecture where he rallied young Hutu men to carry out the killings.
“At that time he was the vice president of MRND in Gisenyi Prefecture,” he said.
“His speech led to the first killings of the Tutsi that took place in Kibuye, Gisenyi, Bugesera and Umutara area. The killings were out as a dry run by the architects of the Genocide”.
The Senator, who is also a renowned researcher on Genocide and Rwanda’s history, said Mugesera’s speech was very influential in rallying and the formation of Interahamwe militia, a group young marauding Hutu men who carried out the killing in 1994.
“It would be good if he was deported. He would actually be one of the very few core planners of the Genocide to be tried in Rwanda. He was one of the very first people to plan how the Genocide could be executed, years before it took place”.Bizimana noted.
The Prosecutor General, Martin Ngoga, said that while there has been a long delay in making the decision, if honoured by Canada; it would be a welcome one.
“We have in the recent days seen signs that pointed to the fact that Canadian authorities were considering the deportation,” he revealed.
“We can not confirm that. If it happens, that would be, without question, a right decision that has been long overdue”.
“Legal processes were exhausted; what we have been waiting for is a political decision to deport him. In some of these western jurisdictions, surprisingly, legal victory is not necessarily enough to get things done,” he added.
Genocide survivors can also not wait for the man to be extradited.
“It would send a strong message to the world if this man is sent back to Rwanda. His actions took place here and he should be tried here,” said Odette Kayirere, the president of the Association of Widows of the Genocide (Avega Agahozo) in Gasabo.
She noted that deporting Mugesera and trying him would prove that the Genocide was planned earlier and did not break out spontaneously as some allege.
Born in Muhororo, Ngororero district, Mugesera holds a PhD in Criminology.