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Rwanda court charges genocide suspect

War crimes suspect Leon Mugesera was charged with genocide planning, incitement and distribution of arms Thursday in a Kigali court in Rwanda. He was deported from Canada to Rwanda [JURIST report] nine days ago, following a 16-year battle in the Canadian court system in which Mugesera attempted to stay in Canada. The Quebec Superior Court ruled last month [judgment, in French] that it did not have jurisdiction over the case. Mugesera is facing charges relating to a speech he made [BBC report] when he was a member of the ruling Hutu party in Rwanda in 1992. His speech, in which he equated Tutsis to cockroaches who needed to be exterminated, allegedly led to the 1994 Rwandan Genocide [JURIST news archive], in which 800,000 individuals, mainly Tutsis, were killed. Mugesera asked the Rwandan judge at his appearance Thursday for a month or two to search for a lawyer and was granted a stay until April 2.

The Quebec Superior Court's decision to deport Mugesera was delayed one last time in January. In a final attempt to stay in Canada, he appealed to the UN Committee Against Torture [official website], asking it to investigate his case and determine whether he would face inhumane torture if he returned to Rwanda. While Mugesera asked the court to hold off ruling [Global Post report] until the committee could complete an investigation, the court ruled the following Monday to deport him. In 2005, a Canadian justice said Mugesera should not be deported unless Rwanda gave a binding promise not to pursue the death penalty [JURIST report] against him after the Canadian Supreme Court had ruled unanimously [JURIST report] that he be deported. Mugesera has been fighting deportation in Canadian court since 1995, when the Canadian government charged him with omitting material documents from his asylum application.

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