Arusha, February 8, 2001(FH) Three new trials are due to start shortly before Trial Chamber Two of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), the president of the Chamber told Hirondelle on Thursday. Judge Laity Kama of Senegal said that the trial of former Rwandan mayor Juvénal Kajelijeli would start on March 12th, the “Butare Trial” of six accused on May 14th and that of former Rwandan minister Jean de Dieu Kamuhanda in April.

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Kajelijeli was mayor of Mukingo (Ruhengeri prefecture, northern Rwanda) during the 1994 genocide that claimed the lives of an estimated 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus. He was originally due to be tried along with seven other former Rwandan officials, but the court granted severance (right to a separate trial) and ordered that the prosecution draft a separate indictment on the basis of the original one. In December, it upheld defence objections that the proposed separate indictment contained new allegations, especially on rape and incitement. The Prosecutor was ordered to redraft the indictment and a trial date was set for January 22nd. However, the prosecution presented a last-minute request to amend the indictment and the former mayor’s lead defence counsel threatened to withdraw from the case, despite possible sanctions, if he were forced to go ahead on the date set. US attorney Lennox Hinds pleaded exceptional circumstances which included not only the behaviour of the prosecution but also troubles at his law firm in the US and the fact that his bilingual co-counsel is tied up until mid-year on another case. The Chamber granted the Prosecutor’s amendment request whilst strongly reprimanding the prosecution team for its conduct. On January 26th, Kajelijeli pleaded not-guilty to the new, amended indictment. The Butare case groups six people accused of committing genocide crimes in the southern Rwandan town of Butare in 1994. They include former Minister of Women’s Development and Family Welfare Pauline Nyiramasuhuko, the only woman to have been charged with rape before an international court. The others are her son and former militia leader Arsène Ntahobali, former mayor of Ngoma Joseph Kanyabashi, former mayor of Muganza Elie Ndayambaje and two former prefects of Butare Sylvain Nsabimana and Alphonse Nteziryayo. Kamuhanda was Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research in the interim government that was set up at the beginning of the genocide in April 1994. He held that position from late May to mid-July the same year. Kamuhanda was arrested in the French town of Bourges on November 26th, 1999, and transferred to the ICTR detention facility in Arusha, Tanzania, on March 7th, 2000. JC/FH (CL_0208e)