Arusha, July 2nd 2001 (FH) - The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) has postponed until Tuesday the restart of trial of former Rwandan mayor Juvénal Kajelijeli, after Kajelijeli's defence lawyer claimed to have communication problems with his client. Defence counsel Lennox Hinds of the US said he could only communicate with his francophone client and with his co-counsel through their defence investigator, who had been held up in Harare, Zimbabwe, with visa problems.

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Hinds said he had only just learned of this, and asked for "twenty-four hours within which to advise this court how we could resolve the matter". Presiding judge William Sekule of Tanzania said the court agreed to adjourn until Tuesday morning and "from there we will see how we move". The trial started on March 13th this year, with the Prosecutor's opening statement and the testimony of one expert witness, ICTR investigator Antonius Maria Tony Lucassen of the Netherlands. However, the Trial Chamber has been recomposed after the death in May of former presiding judge Laity Kama of Senegal and the appointment of two new judges to the Tribunal. The recomposed Trial Chamber Two, hearing the case, is composed of Judge Sekule (presiding) and new judges Arlette Ramaroson of Madagascar and Winston Churchill Matanzima Maqutu of Lesotho. ICTR Rules require the consent of the accused if trial is to be continued after the replacement of a judge. Asked what the defence elected to do, Hinds replied that there were now two new judges who knew nothing about the case, that the trial had not proceeded very far and that "Mr Kajelijelibelieves it is in his best interests and in the interests of justice that this new Trial Chamber, as composed, should hear the case from the beginning". Prosecutor Kenneth Fleming also expressed the view that this was the safest way to proceed, given the fact that the Chamber had not just one but two new judges. "The wisest precaution, given difficulties with the Rule, is to start again," said Fleming. Kajelijeli was mayor of Mukingo, in the northwest Rwandan prefecture of Ruhengeri, during the 1994 genocide. He is charged with eleven counts of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. In his opening statement in March, Fleming said his team would bring fifteen witnesses to prove that the accused had played a leading role in killings in and around Mukingo. He said the witnesses would include a mother who had seen her 15-year-old daughter raped at Kajelijeli's command. JC/MBR/FH (KJ0702e)