January 24, 2012 / 5:07 PM / in 6 years

Rwanda genocide suspect deported from Canada

KIGALI (Reuters) - A Rwandan man charged with crimes against humanity has been deported from Canada and is due to arrive in the central African country overnight, Rwanda’s justice minister said on Tuesday.

Leon Mugesera, who lost a 16-year battle to stay in Canada, will face charges of inciting murder, extermination and genocide.

Justice Minister Tharcisse Karugarama said he was told Mugesera was on a plane bound for Rwanda, after Canadian authorities said on Monday he would be deported as soon as possible.

“There would be some security that is accompanying him and they would hand him over to Rwandan authorities,” Karugarama told Reuters, adding Mugesera would most likely be held in one of two prisons in Rwanda.

Mugesera, who says he fears torture or death if returned to Rwanda, spent years fighting his deportation in various courts. He and his family lived in the predominantly French-speaking province of Quebec.

The Supreme Court of Canada ruled in 2005 that a speech Mugesera made in Rwanda in 1992 was a crime against humanity by inciting Hutus to kill Tutsis, whom he referred to as cockroaches that should be exterminated.

Rwanda says Mugesera, who was a member of the ruling Hutu party when he made the speech, is a war criminal who was complicit in the 1994 genocide, in which 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus died.

Lawyers for Mugesera argued their client, who taught at a Quebec City college, was a man of integrity who had sheltered ethnic Tutsis.

The United Nations Committee Against Torture had requested Mugesera not be deported until a group of experts could review the case. Ottawa pressed ahead with the deportation.

Rwanda abolished the death penalty in 2007. Its community-based gacaca courts have tried more than 1.2 million genocide-related cases since 2005. The courts will formally close on May 4, 2012.

In October 2011, the European Court of Human Rights agreed to extradite Sylvère Ahorugeze, another genocide suspect, from Sweden to Rwanda.

Last week, the Tanzania-based U.N. war crimes tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) formally transferred prosecution material for the first case to be heard in Rwanda since the genocide.

“We are now seeing a number of other countries where there are genocide suspects and these countries are now considering extraditing these individuals to Rwanda partly on the basis of the ICTR decision,” said Carina Tertsakian, a senior researcher at Human Rights Watch.

“I think we are likely to see a sort of snowball effect.”

Editing by Yara Bayoumy

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