Arusha, December 10th, 2002 (FH)- A witness from the Tutsi ethnic group testifying in defence of former Mukingo mayor and a genocide suspect Juvénal Kajelijeli told the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda on Tuesday that he owes his life to Kajelijeli who saved him during the 1994 massacre in Rwanda. The witness hid in Kajelijeli's house at Mukingo from April 7th 1994 for one and a half months with his wife then fled to the Democratic Republic of Congo.

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The witness named RHU21 to protect his identity from the public said he fled his home when he learnt of President Juvénal Habyarimana's assassination. "I was afraid and I fled because it was said the Tutsis and their accomplices had shot down the plane carrying the president. I sought refuge at Kajelijeli's house," the witness said. RHU21 told the chamber he decided to seek refuge at Kajelijeli's house because Kajelijeli had released him and five other Tutsis from the Mukingo communal jail in 1990. Kajelijeli was also influential and people respected him according to him. " I thank him for being alive. " the witness declared. He recalled that Kajejeli came to the house two nights after his arrival and asked him to remain courageous and firm. Kajelijeli wanted to evacuate his children but Kajelijeli’s wife asked him not to do so because the refugees would panic. Among them was a Tutsi woman who had a baby. "I left the house because I realised I could not live hiding in a house and I decided to go to the Democratic Republic of Congo,". RHU21 who is the thirteenth defence witness was led in his chief evidence by Kajelijeli's lead counsel Prof. Lennox Hinds of the United States of America. Kajelijeli has denied eleven counts of genocide and crimes against humanity. The prosecution maintains that he instigated, planned and participated in the killing of Tutsis in Mukingo and adjoining communes in 1994. This trial continues on Wednesday before ICTR's Trial Chamber Two, comprising Judges William Hussein Sekule of Tanzania (presiding), Arlette Ramaroson (Madagascar) Winston Churchhill Matanzima Maqutu (Lesotho). PJ/CE/FH (KJ-1210e)