Arusha, January 26, 2001(FH) Former Rwandan mayor Juvenal Kajelijeli on Friday pleaded not-guilty before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) to an amended indictment containing eleven counts of genocide, crimes against humanity and violations of the Geneva Convention (war crimes). This followed a court decision granting a prosecution motion to amend the indictment; a decision that also strongly reprimanded the prosecution for its conduct.

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The court said it would impose sanctions on the prosecution counsels, “were their conduct to remain ‘offensive’, or otherwise ‘abusive’ or were to ‘obstruct the proceedings’ or otherwise act ‘contrary to the interests of justice’". The court said the prosecution, in a rejected separate indictment, had knowingly attempted to amend the indictment without leave from the court. Furthermore, the court said that: "At the hearing of 12 December 2000, the Prosecutor seemed to shift the burden of responsibility for its own grossly negligent conduct on the Trial Chamber, arguing that ’we came before the court today as a result of a decision [that of July 6th, 2000 to sever the accused from his co-accused] that this court made that we did not ask for’ ". The court said such conduct of the prosecution was "unacceptable" and "an obstruction”. Kajelijeli had in August 1998 also pleaded not guilty to the original joint indictment grouping him with five other former government officials. The court in July last year granted a defence motion for severance, on the grounds that a joint trial could prejudice the accused, and ordered the prosecution to draft a new indictment on the basis of the old one. The separate indictment issued in December 2000 for Kajelijeli was rejected by the court on grounds that it contained new charges not mentioned in the joint indictment, notably in relation to rape and incitement. Kajelijeli, 50, was mayor of Mukingo, in the northwest Rwandan prefecture of Ruhengeri, during the 1994 genocide. He was arrested in Cotonou, Benin, on June 5th, 1998. His case is being heard by Trial Chamber Two of the ICTR, composed of Judges Laïty Kama of Senegal (presiding), William H. Sekule of Tanzania and Mehmet Güney of Turkey. GG/JC/FH (KJ_2601e)