Kigali, Rwanda | AFP
A Rwandan court on Friday sentenced former politician Leon Mugesera to life in prison for inciting the 1994 genocide.
Judge Antoine Muhima said Mugesera had taken part in “public incitement to commit genocide” as well as inciting torture and ethnic hatred, though he was found not guilty of planning and conspiracy to commit genocide.
Mugesera, 63, the former head of the party of assassinated President Juvenal Habyarimana, denied all charges and appealed the verdict. He said he was in Canada when the killings began in Rwanda in 1994.
The prosecution said that Mugesera, a linguist, called Tutsis “cockroaches” and “scum”, and encouraged his fellow Hutus to kill them in a 1992 speech.
Lawyers argued the speech helped trigger the Rwandan genocide two years later in which an estimated 800,000 people, mainly Tutsis, died.
Mugesera, however, challenged the authenticity of the recording of the speech.
Canada deported him in January 2012 after 15 years of court battles. His trial opened in Kigali in January 2013.