MONTREAL — Canada has ordered a Rwandan refugee accused of inciting genocide to be deported next week, but his lawyer vowed on Thursday to continue a 17-year legal battle to quash his expulsion.
Leon Mugesera, now in his late 50s, was informed last month by Canadian authorities that he must leave the country by January 12, according to court documents obtained by AFP.
He has lived with his family in Canada’s Quebec province since 1992, when he fled his homeland in turmoil and a warrant for his arrest.
Deportation proceedings against him began in 1995. A decade later, the Supreme Court upheld a lower court decision to deny him asylum.
But he remained in legal limbo as Ottawa sought assurances that he would not be harmed if he returned to Rwanda.
In its decision to kick him out of Canada now, the government reportedly noted that Rwanda abolished the death penalty in 2007.
Mugesera’s lawyer, Johanne Doyon, told public broadcaster Radio-Canada, “Normally, a refugee such as Mr. Mugesera should not be deported unless he has been convicted of a crime or poses a threat to our society, which isn’t the case for Leon Mugesera.”
Mugesera’s critics point to a speech he gave in Rwanda in 1992 as a defining moment in the buildup to the 1994 genocide that saw as many as 800,000 members of the Tutsi minority slaughtered.
In the speech, Mugesera allegedly called Rwandan Tutsis “cockroaches” and “scum” and encouraged his fellow Hutus to kill them.