Arusha, September 17, 2002 (FH) - The trial of mayor of Mukingo (Ruhengeri Province, northwest of Rwanda) Juvénal Kajelijeli, resumed on Monday with the defence presenting its first witness before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). The witness known only as "JK312" for protection of identity is a Tutsi whose life the accused saved in April 1994.

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Witness JK312 told the court that Kajelijeli had 'such love for humanity that he could not have participated in the crimes he is charged with' as alleged by the prosecution. "He is accused unjustly," said JK312, who testified mainly in camera. Kajelijeli has pleaded not guilty to eleven counts including genocide and crimes against humanity. The prosecution alleges that he led massacres against Tutsis in the commune of Mukingo and other neighbouring areas. The witness said the accused was in his home in the Nkuli commune (close to Mukingo) on April 7th, the day after the plane of former President Juvénal Habyarimana crashed sparking of killings in Rwanda. However, the prosecution maintains that from April 7th, 1994 Kajelijeli organised, supervised and participated in attacks spearheaded by the Interahamwe (militiamen for former presidential party MRND) against the Tutsis in Mukingo commune and neighbouring areas. Counsel Lennox Hinds of America, and Professor Nkeyi Bompaka of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) represent Kajelijeli. They intend to present about thirty witnesses, six of whom will provide alibi evidence in Kajelijeli's defence. Hinds has indicated that among these witnesses, four are detained by the Rwandan justice authorities and that they have not yet obtained travel documents. The counsel also intends to call as a witness, a detainee of the ICTR, former Secretary General of the MRND party, Joseph Nzirorera. Nzirorera had initially been jointly charged with Kajelijeli. Kajelijeli's indictment reads in part: "He had close ties with Joseph Nzirorera and because of this benefited in the authority and status," and that they were allies for a long time with an objective of eliminating all the Tutsis (. . ) in the prefecture of Ruhengeri. The accused is scheduled to testify last in his defence, according to Hinds. The case is before the ICTR's Trial Chamber Two, composed of judges William Hussein Sekule of Tanzania (presiding), Winston Churchill Matanzima Maqutu of Lesotho and Arlette Ramaroson of Madagascar. The hearing proceeded on Tuesday morning with the testimony of another protected witness, "JK311", whose evidence begun in closed session. BN/SW/FH(KJ-0917e)