Arusha, July 4, 2001 (FH) - The trial of former Rwandan mayor Juvénal Kajelijeli finally restarted on Wednesday before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), with prosecutor Kenneth Fleming of Australia describing the accused as someone who "had untold power in a small part of Rwanda and ran rampant with that power", destroying many lives. Prosecution plans to bring fifteen witnesses to back eleven charges against Kajelijeli of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

2 min 26Approximate reading time

"Mr. Kajelijeli is before this Tribunal because the crimes with which he is charged are of such gravity and appalling dimension that he ought to be before a tribunal of this sort," Fleming told the court in his opening statement. The prosecutor said these were "charges which transcend the interests of a particular group or nation. They extract from the whole international community a sense of outrage. They are of such gravity that the world says this is an issue that belongs to the whole human race". Fleming said the ICTR was part of a "new era" of international justice, along with the UN's International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague. "Perhaps the procedure sometimes seems slow and expensive," Fleming continued, but he urged patience in the pursuit ofdeveloping that international justice. He also promised that in Kajelijeli's trial: "We will endeavour to present no evidence that has no probative value. Your Honours will have a trial which will proceed in the most efficient manner possible. "This is the second time Fleming has made an opening statement in the case. The trial was officially started in March this year, but was postponed after the opening statement and the testimony of one witness. Since then, Trial Chamber Two which is hearing the case has been recomposed with two new judges. On Monday the parties agreed to start proceedings again, but were unable to start immediately because of defence team problems. At the time of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, Kajelijeli was mayor of Mukingo, in the northwest Rwandan prefecture of Ruhengeri. The charges against him include genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide, crimes against humanity and serious violations of the Geneva Conventions (war crimes). Fleming told the judges that "within 12 hours" of the shooting down of former president Juvénal Habyarimana's 'plane on April 6th, Kajelijeli "had his troops mobilized", telling them to exterminate the Tutsis and to "go home and get your uniforms, we have work to do". The killings startedimmediately, Fleming said. He said that in the days that followed, Kajelijeli distributed arms and supervised roadblocks to make sure that the "work" of killing Tutsis was being done efficiently. Fleming alleged that Kajelijeli was able to mobilize large numbers of Interahamwe militia. Witnesses would testify, he said, that after receiving Kajelijeli's orders, the Interahamwe would go off singing "let's exterminate them, let's exterminate them". On the conspiracy charge, Fleming said the prosecution would prove beyond reasonable doubt that Kajelijeli was the right-hand man of Joseph Nzirorera, Secretary-General of the former presidential party MRND, and that Kajelijeli conspired with Nzirorera and others to commit genocide. Kajelijeli is also charged with rape, both as a crime against humanity and as a war crime. Fleming told the court one mother had testified that she and her children were hiding from the Interahamwe when she heard Kajelijeli order the militiamen to "search for the girls, rape them and kill them afterwards". He said she would testify that she saw her fifteen-year-old daughter being raped by Interahamwe. Fleming quoted the mother as having testified that "when they were raping my daughter, she cried out for help. Maybe that is why the other group [of Interhamwe] found us". The case is before Trial Chamber Two, composed of Judge William Sekule of Tanzania (presiding), Arlette Ramaroson of Madagascar and Winston Churchill Matanzima Maqutu of Lesotho. JC/MBR/FH (KJ0704e)