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Leon Mugesera: ‘The spokesman of hatred’

The Story

In 2001, Canada continues to try alleged war criminals from different parts of the world. One such individual is Leon Mugesera who allegedly used the rhetoric of violence and aggression to rally his fellow Hutus into slaughtering the Tutsi minority in Rwanda. To the Tutsis who survived the horrific genocide, Mugesera is known as the formal spokesperson of hatred. Now, he waits in a courtroom in Quebec City with his family as his lawyer pleads his case. Reporter Carol Off explores how Mugesera came to Canada and why he is still here. 

Medium: Television
Program: The National
Broadcast Date: Jan. 22, 2001
Guest(s): Guy Bertrand, Ed Broadbent, Alison Deforge, Alain Landry, William Schabas
Host: Peter Mansbridge
Reporter: Carol Off
Duration: 21:58

Did You know?

• In October 1990, the Hutu Rwandan government clashed with the Tutsi-led Rwandese Patriotic Front. The Hutus and the Tutsis, who had a long history of ethnic struggle, engaged in a brutal and bloody civil war. Mugesera fled Rwanda for Canada in November 1992 and obtained permanent-resident status in 1993. In April 1994, 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were murdered. By 1994, rebel Tutsis gained the upper hand and quashed the genocide.

• On Sept. 8, 2003, a three-member panel of judges dismissed charges that Mugesera incited hatred and instigated a massacre in Rwanda in 1992. "There is nothing in the evidence to suggest that Mr. Mugesera intended, under the cover of a bellicose speech that would be justified in the circumstances, to impel toward racism and murder," Judge Robert Decary wrote. "There is simply no evidence, on a balance of probabilities, that Mr. Mugesera had any guilty intent."

• In June 2005, the Supreme Court of Canada restored a deportation order issued to Mugesera. The justices ruled that Mugesera incited murder, genocide and hatred. They also concluded that Mugesera's speech, heard in this CBC Television report, was in fact a crime against humanity.

• In 2002, 355 suspected war criminals were barred entry to Canada. In the same year, the Department of Justice removed 48 individuals from Canada. Ottawa has tried cases against individuals from conflict-ridden countries including Somalia, Rwanda, Afghanistan, Chad, Egypt, Argentina, Congo, Lebanon, Columbia, Yugoslavia, Guatemala, Haiti, Peru and Algeria.

• Mugesera was deported from Canada on Jan. 23, 2012.


Fleeing Justice: War Criminals in Canada more