Canada to deport alleged Rwandan war criminal despite UN

Canadian authorities say Léon Mugesera will eventually be deported, regardless of a stay request from the United Nations committee against torture.

Léon Mugesera hospitalized after losing appeal of deportation order

Léon Mugesera, accused of helping incite the Rwandan genocide, arrives with his wife Jemma at Federal Court in Montreal this week. (The Canadian Press/Paul Chiasson)

Canadian authorities will deport Léon Mugesera, an alleged Rwandan war criminal, in spite of a postponement request from the United Nations committee against torture.  

The UN committee asked Canada to delay Mugesera's deportation, after the former Rwandan politician's legal team lobbied the commission to investigate claims that he could face possible torture or death if he is sent back to his native country.

Officials with the federal Department of Public Security confirmed Wednesday night that they will go ahead and execute the deportation order. 

It's not clear when that will actually happen — Mugesera's scheduled deportation will likely be delayed after he suffered a medical crisis Wednesday afternoon that put him in a Quebec City hospital.

His legal team told CBC News that doctors at the Centre Hospitalier de l'Université Laval (CHUL) won't let Mugesera fly until his medical situation is resolved.

The UN's intervention came at the 11th hour of Mugesera's anticipated Thursday afternoon deportation.

Justice Michel Shore denied Mugesera's appeal for a delay on his deportation order earlier Wednesday in a Montreal courtroom.

Less than three hours later, Mugesera was rushed by ambulance to hospital, suffering what his lawyers described as a stress-related attack.

Mugesera, a Hutu, is accused of helping to incite Rwanda's genocide with a political speech he gave in the years leading up to the massacre. 

The Rwandan government has said it wants Mugesera to stand trial in Rwanda.

Rwanda's chief prosecutor, Martin Ngoga, told CBC News that Mugesera will have full legal protection when he eventually returns home.

"The details in the warrant and in the indictment is something I may not be able to tell you now, but we have charges against him that have to do with the speech he made, which we believed constituted incitement to genocide."

Mugesera, 59, moved to Canada in the mid-nineties, and has fought for nearly 16 years to remain here.

Torture looms, lawyer says

His lawyer, Johanne Doyon, has argued her client will face torture and even death if he returns to Rwanda.

"Unfortunately the Federal Court, by the ruling of Justice Shore, does not respect the Charter and did not rule on the main aspect of the challenge that was before the court," Doyon said.

In an 80-page decision delivered in early December, the Immigration Department said Mugesera's life would not be in danger if he were returned to his home country to stand trial.

The ruling came six years after the Supreme Court restored the decision to return Mugesera to Rwanda, citing reasonable grounds to believe he had committed a crime against humanity.

However, the deportation wasn't immediately enforced because he could have faced the death penalty in his own country. Rwanda dropped the death penalty for convicted war criminals in 2007.

In its ultimate ruling on Mugesera's deportation, Canada's Federal Court said there was no legal reason supporting his request for a stay of deportation.

Speech incited Rwandan genocide

In a speech delivered in 1992, Mugesera called Rwandan Tutsis "cockroaches" and "scum," and encouraged fellow Hutus to kill them.

Rwanda issued a warrant for his arrest shortly thereafter, but Mugesera evaded authorities and fled to Canada that year, settling in Quebec City.

At the height of the 1994 genocide, authorities rebroadcast Mugesera's speech.

Up to 800,000 members of the Tutsi minority and some of the moderate elements within the Hutu majority were slaughtered during the genocide.

'Canada too generous'

Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said Wednesday Mugesera's case demonstrates that Canada is too generous with suspected foreign war criminals.

"At some point it turns into a mockery of Canada's generosity," he said. "Eventually we have to remove war criminals and stop talking about it."

Kenney said the government will propose a legislative package this year to streamline the appeals process for foreign criminals.

He said the reforms will mean suspected foreign criminals will not be able to abuse the Canadian legal system.