KIGALI — A Rwandan sought by the authorities in Kigali over the 1994 genocide and deported by Canada after a long legal battle, was charged Thursday with plotting genocide, incitement and distribution of arms.
Leon Mugesera, who had been fighting his deportation to Rwanda for the past 16 years, asked for more time before entering a plea on the grounds that he does not yet have a lawyer.
“I’m not ready to begin,” Mugesera told the court. He appeared relaxed and even smiled as he arrived at the court in Kigali, wearing a smart grey suit and handcuffs.
“I need more time to find a lawyer. I’ve asked the prosecutor to wait. Within one or two months I will know who my lawyer will be.”
President Paul Kagame said he was certain the trial would be fair.
“I have no doubt that the case will be handled to everybody’s satisfaction,” he told reporters.
The case was adjourned until April 2, when Mugesera will enter a plea. His request for bail in the interim was refused.
Mugesera, now 59, made an infamous speech in 1992 that allegedly played a major role in sparking the 1994 genocide, in which radical ethnic Hutus killed as many as 800,000 Tutsis.
Mugesera, a linguist, allegedly called Tutsis “cockroaches” and “scum,” and encouraged his fellow Hutus to kill them.
He had lived in Canada since 1993 before his return to Rwanda last month.