Published by Andy Blatchford The Canadian Press
Leon Mugesera is said to be in a Quebec hospital in critical condition.
The order, handed down in Quebec Superior Court, came at the 11th-hour for Leon Mugesera, who was slated on Thursday to be deported to Rwanda from Canada.
Justice William Fraiberg ordered a stay of deportation until Jan. 20, when Mugesera’s lawyers are due back in court.
Ottawa is not obliged to comply with the court order and it did not offer any immediate hints Thursday on how it will proceed.
The lawyers who filed the motion on Mugesera’s behalf said the Canadian government’s international obligations require it to keep Mugesera here while the United Nations Committee Against Torture examines his case.
Mugesera is expected to face criminal charges in the Rwanda related to the 1994 killing of between 800,000 and 1 million Rwandans.
Earlier this week, the Federal Court rejected Mugesera’s last-ditch effort to stay in Canada, his home for the last 19 years, and he was set to be deported immediately.
Mugesera’s family says he is in “critical condition” in a Quebec City hospital, where he has spent a second straight day with an unspecified health issue. Media reports said he might have, following his deportation order, ingested medication that made him ill Wednesday.
Television images showed a bundled Mugesera laid out on a stretcher as he was wheeled out of his Quebec City home.
“Dad is in critical condition,” Mugesera’s family said in a statement released Thursday by his lawyer’s office. The family did not provide any further details about his condition.
A university professor and one-time Rwandan political operative, Mugesera gave a virulent, anti-Tutsi speech in 1992. Two years later, Hutu-backed militias later carried out a 100-day massacre of Tutsis and Hutu moderates.
Mugesera fears he could be tortured if he’s sent back to Rwanda.
To complicate matters, the United Nations Committee Against Torture requested that Canada keep Mugesera here while it investigates his claims he’d be tortured in Rwanda.
His family also pleaded with Ottawa to give the international body the time it needs to complete an investigation, which could take at least a couple of months.
“We implore Canada to respect its international obligations as demanded by the (UN) High Commissioner for Human Rights on Jan. 11, 2012,” the family said in the short statement.
That UN-related request is what prompted that 11th-hour challenge in provincial court.
“Our argument is that if it has any meaning for Canada to ratify these international conventions, then they should wait instead of acting like cowboys,” lawyer Philippe Larochelle said.
The federal government has disputed the warnings of possible torture, saying it has taken all necessary steps to ensure Mugesera would be treated fairly in Rwanda