Arusha, March 16, 2001(FH) The defence lawyer for Rwandan ex-politician Joseph Nzirorera on Friday filed a request to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in which he says his client risks being unfairly tried in his absence through the separate genocide trial of former mayor Juvénal Kajelijeli. In his motion, Scottish lawyer Andrew McCartan asks the court for a remedy and proposes three alternatives: either stay the Kajelijeli trial until Nzirorera has been tried, or join the two cases "as a matter of urgent relief" or allow Nzirorera’s defence "to hold a watching brief in the case of Juvénal Kajelijeli, to permit Counsel for Nzirorera to cross-examine all prosecution witnesses in the case of Juvénal Kajelijeli; and to have defence witnesses examined on behalf of the accused Joseph Nzirorera, in said proceedings".

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Nzirorera was Secretary-General of the former single party MRND in Rwanda, while Kajelijeli was mayor of Mukingo in the northwest Rwandan prefecture of Ruhengeri. The two men were arrested together at Nzirorera’s house in Benin in June 1998. Both are charged with genocide and crimes against humanity. Nzirorera is expected to be tried with former MRND president Mathieu Ngirumpatse and two ex-government ministers, Edouard Karemera (Interior) and André Rwamakuba (Education). The court last year granted a defence request to have Kajelijeli severed from ex-ministers and politicians and give him a separate trial. This trial opened officially this week, although it has now been postponed to July 2nd. In his opening statement, prosecutor Ken Fleming of Australia said witnesses would testify to the fact that Kajelijeli was Nzirorera’s "right-hand man". McCartan says Kajelijeli’s indictment is full of references to Nzirorera, the MRND and the Interahamwe militia (youth wing/militia of the MRND, seen as the spearhead of the genocide). "The Prosecutor has no right," says his motion, "to use the accused Nzirorera, who has not yet been tried, to prove a case against Kajelijeli […]. The accused submits that the foregoing facts are sufficiently serious to amount to a trial against him in his absence without any opportunity to defend himself," says the motion. The matter is before Trial Chamber Two of the ICTR, composed of judges Laity Kama of Senegal (presiding), William Sekule of Tanzania and Mehmet Güney of Turkey. JC/PHD/FH (NI_0316e)