Arusha, January 22nd, 2001 (FH) - The genocide trial of former Rwandan mayor Juvenal Kajelijeli, scheduled to start Monday at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), has been postponed until at least March. This follows a defence request for more time to prepare the case, and a prosecution motion to amend the indictment.

1 min 28Approximate reading time

The court said it would decide first on the amendment request. It called the parties to a session in March where a trial date will be decided. In a motion to the court, defence counsel Lennox Hinds said he would withdraw from the case if the January 22nd date were maintained. He cited difficulties at his law firm in New York and the fact that his bilingual co-counsel Richard Harvey is temporarily unavailable because of involvement in the Bloody Sunday inquiry in Northern Ireland. Chastising prosecution for its late presentation of the amendment request, presiding judge Laity Kama of Senegal remarked that “those prosecuting sometimes have an unfortunate tendency to delay proceedings”. Prosecutor Ken Fleming argued, however, that any delays were caused by the defence, and by a court decision in December ordering the prosecution to redraft the indictment. Kajelijeli was originally due to be tried along with seven other former Rwandan officials, but the court granted severance 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, specifically on rape and incitement. The prosecution’s amendment request, presented Monday, is with a view to maintaining that indictment. Prosecutor Don Webster (US/Jamaica) told the court that “it is the same case” whether Kajelijeli were tried with seven others or on his own. He said Kajelijeli “was operating on the ground leading crowds, distributing weapons and inciting local militiamen to rape Tutsi women”. Defense counsel Hinds argued, however, that it was inappropriate for the prosecution to change an indictment confirmed over a year ago and that there were totally new allegations. Kajelijeli was mayor of Mukingo (Ruhengeri prefecture, northern Rwanda) during the 1994 genocide that claimed the lives of an estimated 800,000 Tustsis and moderate Hutus. He is appearing before Trial Chamber Two of the ICTR, composed of judges Laity Kama of Senegal (presiding), William Sekule of Tanzania and Mehmet Güney of Turkey. GG/JC/FH (KJ_2201e)