Arusha, December 12th, 2000 (FH) – Defence counsel for former Rwandan mayor and genocide suspect Juvénal Kajelijeli on Tuesday challenged his client's amended indictment, and asked the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) for another six months before starting trial, the independent news agency Hirondelle reports. The trial had been set to start on January 22nd.

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Defence counsel Lennox Hinds of the US told the court that the indictment violated a court order of July 6th this year. In that decision, Trial Chamber Two granted a previous defence motion for Kajelijeli's severance and separate trial. Prosecution had planned to try him with former ministers and high level politicians under an August 29th 1998 confirmed indictment, but severance was granted on the basis that such a joint trial would be prejudicial to Kajelijeli's rights. Hinds says that in its July 6th decision, the court "ordered the Prosecutor to file a separate indictment pertaining only to Mr Kajelijeli from the existing confirmed indictment" but that the Prosecutor ignored this and filed an amended indictment involving new charges. "For example," writes Hinds. "an examination of the old indictment shows no allegations individually against Mr Kajelijeli with respect to: speeches and incitment to genocide; propaganda; distribution of weapons. In the new indictment, for example, (…) Mr Kajelijeli is alleged to have organized and participated in abductions and rapes or ordered and witnessed the raping and sexual assaults on Tutsi females. These allegations are not found in the August 29th, 1998 confirmed indictment. ""The Prosecutor is alleging horrific types of crimes, involving sticks and instruments," Hinds told the court. "This is a horrible situation. For the first time, I'm faced with that, having never seen such allegations in respect of my client. " He says that Defence was also served on August 30th with a list of 41 witness statements in support of the new indictment. "Our contention, your Honours, is that Defence is now essentially faced with preparing a new defence on the basis of a new indictment," the lawyer continued. He said there were other factors that also made start of trial impossible for at least six months. These he named as the unavailability of his bilingual co-counsel and the necessity to conduct "critical investigations in Rwanda based upon new allegations contained in the 41 witness statements". Hinds therefore requested that his client be allowed to plead to the new indictment, or that the court order the Prosecutor to make the new indictment conform to the old one. In any case, he urged that "a new trial date on this matter be set and that Counsel be allowed six months to be ready to try this case. "The Prosecution argued, however, that it had maintained the substance of the allegations, had not introduced any new charges and that the defence was making a "calculated attempt to delay justice in this matter". Prosecutor Don Webster argued that the court's severance order had "changed the very nature of pleading the case", to the extent that the Prosecution had been told to focus on one man, rather than a group of people considered part of a nation wide conspiracy. "But," he told the court, "the thinking behind it is still the same. Even though we are being more specific, the thrust of the allegations is the same . This new indictment is a much better instrument both for the defence and the prosecution. The defence has a much better idea of the specific allegations against Mr Kajelijeli. "Webster further argued that the real issue was defence counsel's readiness for trial. "This has nothing to do with the appropriateness of the indictment," Webster told the court. "He is asking for another six months, and he has trumped up a legal argument. These are the same eleven counts. All we've done is give further particulars to focus them for trial and on this accused. That should favour a speedy trial and I would request the Court to honour its commitment to be ready for trial on January 22nd. "UN Chief Prosecutor, present in court, also stressed that the new indictment was merely "more descriptive, more detailed" than the confirmed one. "Does that change the knowledge of the charges for the accused and his defence?" she asked. Presiding Judge Laity Kama of Senegal pushed Hinds to say whether he could in fact proceed with trial on the basis of the original indictment, or whether he needed more time in any case. Hinds said he had perhaps expressed himself badly and that the issues of trial readiness and the new indictment were not unrelated. "These [41] witness statements amount to new evidence under the new indictment and I would have to investigate them," he told the court. Judge Kama said the court would deliberate and would deliver its decision at 18. 00 local time (15 hours GMT) at the latest. JC/FH