The long-awaited deportation of Léon Mugesera is an occasion to marvel at the resourcefulness of a Rwandan accused of crimes against humanity, who tried every trick to win a reprieve from the Canadian courts.
He fell suddenly ill after losing his deportation case in Federal Court – his lawyers sought a delay.
He asked the United Nations Committee against Torture to review his case – his lawyers sought a delay.
He went to Quebec Superior Court for a delay, but Mr. Justice Michel Delorme told him to stop “tribunal-shopping.” Even before Judge Delorme’s rejection landed, Mr. Mugesera’s lawyers had started a hearing, by telephone – in Federal Court again, citing the Canadian Constitution.
In 1992, a time ripe for an explosion in Rwanda, Mr. Mugesera said in a speech, “Why do they not exterminate all of them? Are we really waiting till they come to exterminate us? Do not be afraid, know that anyone whose neck you do not cut is the one who will cut your neck.” In 1994, the genocide of 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus began. In Canada in 2005, Mr. Mugesera’s lawyer, Guy Bertrand, argued that there was a Jewish conspiracy on the Supreme Court to deport him. Subsequently, that court was unanimous that he had called for murder.
Mr. Mugesera has lived in freedom in Quebec City for 17 years during deportation proceedings because Canada believes in due process and would not send him to a land where the jails are unsafe, the justice system is uncertain, and the death penalty may await. But Rwanda has grown up, banished the death penalty, and at 5:14 p.m. on Monday, Mr. Mugesera, under guard, was airborne and bound for home.
He did not deserve another day in Canada. Not even one. And Rwanda deserves him back for a fair trial.