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Canada deports Rwanda war crimes suspect

The Canadian government on Monday deported Rwandan war crimes suspect Leon Mugesera, after a Quebec Superior Court [official website] judge ruled that the court did not have jurisdiction to rule on immigration cases. Mugesera, who has been fighting deportation from Canada since 1995, is a former Rwandan politician accused of delivering a speech in 1992 urging fellow Hutus to murder members of the Tutsi minority. Many Rwandans believe Mugesera's speech directly led to the mass killings [BBC report] which occurred during the 1994 Rwandan genocide [JURIST news archive]. The Canadian government originally sought to deport Mugesera in 1995 after they determined that he omitted material facts in his application for asylum. The government also determined that Mugesera should be deported because there was a reasonable basis to believe he had incited murder, genocide and crimes against humanity. In 2005, the Canadian Supreme Court ruled that Mugesera must be deported, although the Canadian government later indicated he would not be extradited unless the Rwandan government guaranteed not to seek the death penalty [JURIST reports] in the event of a conviction. In a final effort to avoid deportation, which some commentators had called "inevitable" [JURIST op-ed], Mugesera appealed to the UN Committee Against Torture [official website], claiming he would face torture and possible death if removed to Rwanda [Globe and Mail report]. Mugesera also asked the Canadian courts not to rule on his final appeals until the UN committee had reached its decision. Superior Court Judge Michel Delorme ruled that immigration issues must be determined by the federal courts [CTV Montreal report], not provincial courts, and that agreeing to hear the case would lead to forum shopping. Mugesera was deported hours after the court issued its final ruling.

While the Canadian government chose to pursue deportation of Mugesera, they have the authority under the country's Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act [text, PDF] to prosecute individuals living in Canada who are suspected of involvement with genocide. In November 2009, Canadian prosecutors announced they were charging [JURIST report] Rwandan national Jacques Mungwarere under the law for his potential involvement in the Rwandan genocide. Mungwarere was the second man charged under the act. The first man charged under the act was Desire Munyaneza. In October 2009, Munyaneza was sentenced to life imprisonment [JURIST report] for war crimes committed during the Rwandan genocide. Munyaneza was convicted [JURIST report] in May 2009 of seven counts of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes under the act. He was arrested [JURIST report] in 2005 by Canadian police after a five-year investigation. The trial, which was briefly postponed [JURIST report] after Munyaneza was beaten by a fellow prison inmate, lasted two years and included evidence from multiple nations. International legal observers expect Munyaneza's trial to set precedent for future war crimes litigation.

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