Rwandan genocide mastermind in court today

Thursday February 02 2012

Rwandan fugitive Leon Mugesera (R) is handcuffed on the tarmac as he arrives at Kigali International Airport late on January 24, 2012. AFP

Leon Mugesera, a Rwandan national believed to be among the masterminds of the 1994 genocide is set to appear at a Kigali court Tuesday. He was deported from Canada on January 24, 16 years after he fled from Rwanda.

Mugesera, a former professor at the National University of Rwanda and vice president of the ruling MRND party, is accused of having called for the extermination of the Tutsis one and half years before the genocide.

Speaking in Kabaya, Gisenyi, in 1992, Mugesera is alleged to have said, in reference to the first massacres of Tutsis in 1959,“The mistake we made in 1959 was to let you live,” adding, in a speech parts of which can be found on online video sharing site YouTube.

“I am telling you… that your home is in Ethiopia, that we will send you by the Nyabarongo River so you can get there quickly.” Nyabarongo is part of the headwaters of the Nile.

His speech embarrassed the government of the time and marked him for arrest, forcing him to flee to Canada, where he acquired residence in Québec in 1993.