An accused Rwandan war criminal is pleading for a stay of his deportation from Canada on the grounds he has never been convicted of any crime.
Léon Mugesera was ordered to be deported Jan. 12 after having lived in Quebec since 1993.
He appeared in Federal Court in Montreal Monday in a bid to convince authorities that he should be allowed to stay in Canada.
"Normally, a refugee like Mr. Mugesera should not be deported unless he has been convicted in a definitive way and that he is a threat to his host society," said his lawyer Johanne Doyon.
"This is not the case for Léon Mugesera. He hasn't been convicted. He has not had access to a fair and equitable trial in front of his peers and in front of justice, and thus he does not constitute a danger."
Mugesera is alleged to have given a political speech in 1994 at the height of the Rwandan genocide that incited party militants to attack and kill Tutsis.
According to court documents, Tutsi killings took place the next day.
Mugesera's name appears on a list prepared by the U.S. State Department of those implicated in the genocide in Rwanda.
He has been fighting and delaying orders for his deportation for several years.
In 2005, the Supreme Court of Canada upheld a deportation order that Mugesera had fought on the grounds he faced the death penalty in his native country.
Rwanda abolished capital punishment in 2007.
In December 2011, Canadian immigration officials handed down an 80-page decision that stated Mugesera’s life would not be in danger if he was returned to his home country to stand trial.
If he is deported on Thursday, Mugesera would be the first refugee claimant sent back to Rwanda to face charges for war crimes.
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