Mugesera’s lawyer quits over pay
According to an article of the Hirondelles news agency published on Wednesday, Donat Mutunzi, the lawyer of Leon Mugesera, has decided to quit because he was not being paid.
The agency quoted Mutunzi saying that since Mugesera was extradited to Rwanda in January this year, he had not received any fee for services he had been delivering to Mugesera, adding that his client’s family has cut off contacts.
When contacted on the phone, Mutunzi declined to comment.
From Athanase Rutabingwa, the president of Rwanda Bar Association who also said he doesn’t have any information on the issue, The Rwanda Focus learnt that Donat Mutunzi had made a contract with Mugesera and not the Bar Association to provide a lawyer for him.
“If he had abandoned the trial, we would not be concerned to provide another lawyer for Mugesera because he had made the contract directly with his lawyer without passing to the Bar,” Rutabingwa explained. “We would find him another lawyer if he had contacted us.”
The prosecution too doesn’t see much of a problem. “Getting a lawyer through the bar association or by directly contacting one is a legal right for anybody,” noted Alain Mukurarinda, the spokesman of Rwanda Public Prosecution Authority. “For us the most important is that he appears with a lawyer. Yet the country has got a lot of lawyers so he can get another one; but this is his private business.”
Donat Mutunzi had been absent during his client’s last two appearances, respectively on June 4 and June 11, when Mugesera appeared before the High Court to appeal for a further delay of his trial. However, at the last appearance, Mugesera was accompanied by another lawyer, Felix Rudakemwa.