Canada trial of Rwanda war crimes suspect postponed after prison attack

Canada trial of Rwanda war crimes suspect postponed after prison attack

[JURIST] A Quebec Superior Court [official website] judge Thursday postponed the war crimes trial of Desiré Munyaneza [Trial Watch profile] after he was severely beaten in his cell by another prisoner Wednesday night. The former Rwandan militia commander is charged under the Canadian Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act [text] with seven counts of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes allegedly committed during the 1994 Rwandan genocide [HRW backgrounder; BBC backgrounder]. Munyaneza was captured in 2005 in Canada, where had he lived as a fugitive since 1997; his trial began [JURIST report] last month.

The attack, which has left Munyaneza physically and mentally unable to stand trial for now, was carried out by a new prisoner who claimed to have been following the case in the newspaper. Munyaneza defense lawyer Lawrence Cohen decried the court's failure to protect an inmate who is presumed innocent, calling the failure of security an "embarrassment." The trial is scheduled to resume on Monday. CBC News has more.