Alleged war criminal lands in Rwanda

A man accused of inciting genocide returned to Rwanda today after exhausting all legal recourse in a 15-year attempt to stay in Canada, the Montreal Gazette reported.

Journalists, onlookers and security forces waited at Kigali airport as a private Canadian jet landed just before midnight local time to deliver Leon Mugesera to local police.

Authorities are likely to charge the 59-year-old former political activist and academic with planning genocide, inciting people to commit genocide and creating an armed gang with an intention to kill, the Gazette said. His faces a life sentence if convicted.

Freddy Mutanguha was among a few dozen people at the airport when Mugesera arrived.

“I came at the airport to see his face myself,” Mutanguha told the Gazette. “It’s so sad what he said and how he incited people to kill. I’d like to see him tried in Rwanda.

“It’s something we’ve been awaiting for a long, long time. To see him explaining himself about what he said is, to be honest, a very good healing for Rwandans.”

Mugesera’s charges stem from a 1992 speech he gave that allegedly called Tutsis “scum” and “cockroaches.” Mugesera is Hutu.

The Canadian government finally deported him from Quebec City on Tuesday after he ran out of legal options. His final appeal to the United Nations, launched last Friday, was unsuccessful.

More on GlobalPost: Mugesera ordered deported back to Rwanda

Mugesera repeatedly asked the Canadian judicial system to stay in Canada because he claimed he faced torture in Rwanda and wouldn’t receive a fair trial.

Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said he believes Rwandan officials who guaranteed justice.

“Quite frankly we saw (that legal argument) as just a dilatory delaying motion from his lawyers," Kenney told CBC in Montreal. "At some point – and it took us 17 years – you have to say enough is enough.

"The people of Rwanda have a right to see this man tried before their own courts."

The Toronto Star reported that security around Mugesera’s deportation was tight. An unmarked police vehicle whisked him away to one of Rwanda’s two prisons, the Star said. Using a private jet was also unusual for Canadian deportations, the Star said.

“There’s a big diaspora element that is very anti-Mugesera,” said Susan Thomson, an American academic expert on Rwanda. “Rwandans are not afraid to use physical violence. They’re not afraid to poison. There’s all sorts of little things that could have happened on a commercial flight.” 

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