Canadian authorities have decided to keep Léon Mugesera in detention fearing he might escape or do something to avoid deportation, Canadian media reported yesterday.
On Friday, Mugesera will return to court for a fresh hearing into the request by the United Nations Committee against Torture to suspend his deportation to Rwanda to allow them time to investigate his claims that he faces torture upon extradition.
But the Canadian government, on Monday, reiterated its determination to deport Mugesera to face trial, and expressed fears that if the 59-year old is released he might attempy new antics to beat extradition.
A member of Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) ruled Mugesera was a flight risk and should stay in detention until all his legal battles are done.
Last week, Mugesera was a few hours away from deportation when he was suddenly taken ill to hospital with an unknown condition, causing a delay in the deportation that was expected on January 12.
It was reported that Mugesera, who is wanted in Rwanda to answer charges of crimes against humanity and inciting violence, deliberately took an overdose to avoid the impending deportation.
Upon being discharged from hospital Saturday, Canada Border Services Agency arrested and detained him following concerns by government lawyer Roberto Godoy and IRB adjudicator Dianne Tordorf, who raised concerns that he needed to be watched closely as he posed a flight risk.
“We are resolutely determined to deport him from the country,” CBSA spokesperson Stéphane Malépart said Monday, following a hearing to determine whether the detention was justified.
It is alleged that Mugesera, who gave a hate speech in 1992 calling on Hutus to kill Tutsis, told his son that he would rather die than return to Rwanda.
He had reportedly been in critical condition on the eve of his deportation but seemed fine at his hearing Monday.
Tordorf said that since Mugesera wouldn’t testify and “give the other side of the story” about why he was hospitalized, she would infer that he had taken desperate measures to avoid deportation. Therefore, she concluded, he might do something similar if not detained.
Tordorf sided with a federal lawyer who argued the overdose showed the lengths to which Mugesera will go to avoid deportation.
“I don’t know if you will make a similar gesture, and you refuse to answer questions. You need to be supervised,” Tordorf said.
Reacting to the ongoing deportation drama, the Minister of Justice Tharcisse Karugarama said yesterday that it is just a matter of time for the suspect to be deported, having exhausted all avenues to fight a longstanding deportation order.
The minister said Mugesera had resorted to drama to avoid deportation, adding “every drama has an end”. He advised Mugesera to return home, admit to his crimes and ask for leniency, which might see him getting a lighter sentence “like other criminals have done and benefited”.
“His (1992) speech is still available on tape; he has actually never denied his utterances,” Karugarama said.
“What I can assure you is that he will be deported...definitely he is going to come, there is no doubt about it. When all the processes are exhausted, drama won’t stop the process”.
Karugarama hit out at the UN Committee against Torture’s dramatic intervention last week, seeking a stay on the deportation order until it investigated Mugesera’s fears of torture upon returning to Rwanda.
He said the body’s move was unnecessary and not binding on a decision made by the Supreme Court of a sovereign nation (Canada).
The justice minister described the intervention as ‘racist’, saying that both Canada and Rwanda were signatories to the UN Convention against Torture.
“If a country is a signatory to this convention, it is committed to fight torture in all forms; therefore, the committee’s decision has no basis at all. Besides, we have not tortured any prisoners, it is on record”.
He noted that Rwanda remains committed to providing a fair trial to Mugesera and anyone else who will be deported or extradited to Rwanda for whatever crimes.
Additional reporting by Agencies