Arusha, November 28, 2001 (FH) - Judges of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) on Tuesday rejected a Prosecutor's motion to have defence evidence thrown out on grounds that it was illegally acquired. Prosecution in the genocide trial of former Rwandan mayor Juvénal Kajelijeli had argued against admitting alleged confession statements madein Rwanda by a detainee witness.

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The witness, dubbed "GAO" to protect his identity, is a self-confessed Interahamwe militiaman who pleaded guilty to genocide in Ruhengeri, northwest Rwanda in 1997 and is in jail there awaiting sentencing. He initially testified for the prosecution from July 23rd to 25th this year, but has been recalled at the request of the defence. Kajelijeli's defence team earlier told the court that during cross-questioning in July they "tried in vain to get statements made by the witness to judicial authorities in Rwanda", and that since the prosecution did not furnish them with the statements, Kajelijeli's American lawyer Lennox Hinds had gone to Rwanda and obtained some of them. GAO has been recalled to answer questions regarding alleged contradictions between his earlier testimony to the ICTR and his confession statements in Rwanda. Prosecutor Ken Fleming of Australia asked the court on Wednesday to "reject the evidence, as it has been acquired by means that cast a substantial doubt on its reliability". "The defence has not authenticated the documents," he argued. "Such evidence could seriously damage the integrity of the proceedings. "Defence counsel Hinds replied that "since the authorities in Rwanda had refused to give us the documents, we obtained them in the only way that we could get them. "Hinds also told the court that the witness had recognized the documents on the first day, saying they were his. "And now," Hinds continued, "he is deliberately saying that they are fraudulent, some of them are (his) and others are not. "The court rejected the prosecution request saying that there was "no showing of circumstances that would attract the Chamber to act in accordance with Rule 95 to rule the evidence inadmissible at this stage". Rule 95 of the ICTR Rules of Procedure and Evidence states that: "No evidence shall be admissible if obtained by methods which cast substantial doubt on its reliability or if its admission is antithetical to, and would seriously damage, the integrity of the proceedings. "GOA told the court on Monday that the documents produced by the defence were his statements. He admitted that the confession statement contradicted his testimony before the ICTR "because I lied to Rwandan authorities at that time, hoping to be set free". GOA changed his stand on Tuesday, saying that while he had made his confession in February 1999, a document brought to court as his confession statement was dated February 1992. "How then can that be my statement?" he said. "In 1992, the war had not even started. "In July, GOA told the court that he personally participated in the killings of more than 600 Tutsis on the orders of former mayor Kajelijeli in 1994. At the time of the genocide, Kajelijeli was mayor of Mukingo commune in Ruhengeri. He has pleaded not guilty to charges of genocide and crimes against humanity. The case is before Trial Chamber Two of the ICTR, composed of judges William Hussein Sekule of Tanzania (presiding), Winston Churchill Matanzima Maqutu of Lesotho and Arlette Ramaroson of Madagascar. GG/JC/FH (KJ1128e)