Kigali, April 2, 2012 (FH) – Appearing before a Kigali court on Monday, extradited Rwandan genocide suspect Léon Mugesera requested another postponement of his trial in order to prepare his defence. The court is due to decide Tuesday on his request.

1 min 4Approximate reading time

“I need an additional month to make sure that my defence team is complete, so as to ensure that I am fully and properly defended,” Mugesera told the court. He was assisted by just one lawyer from Rwanda, Donat Mutunzi, but said his team was supposed to consist of six Canadians, two Rwandans and an American. The Rwandan academic was extradited from Canada in January this year after a legal battle lasting more than 15 years. He is accused of inciting genocide in a 1992 speech during a meeting of his political party in northern Rwanda.   His trial was due to start on February 2, 2012, but was postponed after the accused argued that he did not have proper legal representation. Mugesera, speaking in French, told the court he had not yet been questioned and did not yet know the allegations against him. In effect, the prosecution has not questioned him following his refusal to respond in Kinyarwanda, the Rwandan language in which he delivered the 1992 speech. “In the judicial and scientific fields, there are some terms I don't understand in Kinyarwanda,” said Mugesera, arguing the right to be questioned in a language he understands. “He has the right to be questioned in a language he understands and not in a language of his choice,” responded prosecutor Ndibwami Rugambwa. “The speech was delivered in Kinyarwanda, those who suffered the consequences speak Kinyarwanda and Mugesera himself speaks Kinyarwanda.” The prosecutor argued that translating the speech into another language would dilute its genocidal message.