Arusha, January, 16, 2001(FH) The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) said Monday that the genocide trial of former Rwandan mayor Juvénal Kajelijeli would start on January 22nd as scheduled, despite a resignation threat from the accused’s defence counsel if the date is not postponed. Defence counsel Lennox Hinds of the US was last month granted a motion ordering the prosecution to re-draft the indictment against his client, but was denied a request to postpone the trial on grounds he was not ready.

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On January 5th, he filed an urgent request to withdraw from the case, citing exceptional circumstances. In a letter on January 10th, the ICTR warned him that this “could possibly be construed by the Chamber as an obstruction to the course of the proceedings" and ordered him to appear in court on 22nd to present his motion. Hinds says he needs more time to reorganise his team and to organise his law firm in New York. His bilingual co-counsel Richard J. Harvey has also requested to be "temporarily" withdrawn from the case due to other commitments in Northern Ireland. Harvey has been hired to appear on behalf of the family of one of the victims in the 1972 Bloody Sunday Massacre in Northern Ireland. "Given the Tribunal’s insistence to proceed on the 22nd, if that is their position, then I would request to withdraw,” Hinds told journalists at the weekend. “What I’m asking for is additional time for me to restructure and reorganise my support system so that I can produce for my client a case that is impartial. If we can reach a reasonable accommodation, I remain. If we cannot, I will not be ready for the hearing and whatever sanctions they can impose, I will deal with them. ”GG/JC/FH (KJ%1601e)