Arusha, November 19th, 2002 (FH) - A defence witness and detainee on Tuesday told judges at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) that genocide suspect and former mayor, Juvenal Kajelijeli was innocent of all charges against him. Protected witness 'RGM' has confessed to participating in killings of ethnic Tutsis in the Mukingo area in the north west Rwanda region of Ruhengeri.

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Hisguilty plea has been rejected by the prosecution in Rwanda where he is scheduled to stand trial. Kajelijeli, 50, has pleaded not guilty to eleven counts of genocide and crimes against humanity. The prosecution maintains that he instigated, planned and participated in the killing of ethnic Tutsis in Mukingo and adjoining communes in 1994. RGM told the court that during the course of the semi-traditional gacaca courts at the detention centre where he is awaiting trial, none of the detainees charged with killings in Mukingo and surrounding areas mentioned Kajelijeli. "That is why I believe Kajelijeli is innocent", he said. RGM told judges that him and other Interahamwe (militia linked to the then ruling party) had participated in the killings of "tens" of ethnic Tutsis in Busogo cell in Mukingo. Describing the killing of one Rukara, RGM said they had pulled him out of his house and hit him to death with metallic pipes. He denied prosecution suggestions that killings in Mukingo had been planned. "After the assassination of president Habyarimana, people were very angry. (…) Tutsis were targeted because the army told us that Tutsis had assassinated the president", he said. "This was worsened by orders from the army to go out and kill", he added. The chamber adjourned prematurely after the testimony of RGM following reports from Kajelijeli's defence counsel, Lennox Hinds of the US that the next defence witness, only identified as 'MEN' was suffering from Malaria. The trial is before Trial Chamber Two of the ICTR composed of Judges William Hussein Sekule of Tanzania (presiding), Arlette Ramaroson (Madagascar) and Winston Churchill Matanzima Maqutu (Lesotho). GG/CE/FH(KJ-1119e)