Arusha, September 13, 2002 (FH) - The trial of former mayor of Mukingo (Ruhengeri Province, northwest of Rwanda) Juvénal Kajelijeli, is scheduled to resume next Monday before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). Kajelijeli's defence is set to start its case.

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The trial, which was adjourned last April, commenced on March 2001. It, however, had to be restarted on July 14, 2001 when the Chamber that was hearing it was recomposed, following the death in May of the presiding judge, Senegalese Laity Kama. The hearing was adjourned prematurely on April 10th, due to unavailability of two prosecution witnesses. The witnesses refused to appear before the Tribunal after key Rwandan associations of genocide survivors, IBUKA and AVEGA decided to cease cooperation with the Tribunal. As a result, several witnesses heeded this call and some trials before the Tribunal including Kajelijeli's and the case involving the largest number of individuals before the ICTR, the 'Butare Trial' were affected. The genocide associations alleged harassment of witnesses during testimony before the Tribunal; they also accused the ICTR of hiring individuals involved in the 1994 genocide. Some ten witnesses who refused to testify in this case were deleted from the witnesses' list by the court. At the close of its case, the prosecution in Kajelijeli's trial had presented 14 witnesses. Prosecutor Ken Fleming of Australia informed the court that prosecution was ready to close its case, but added that there was a possibility of calling the two witnesses who could not travel to Arusha in April, in rebuttal. This week, sources close to the prosecution indicated that there was a likelihood of having a status conference before the defence commenced its case. Kajelijeli has denied 11 counts of genocide and crimes against humanity. The prosecution maintains he instigated, planned and participated in the killing of ethnic Tutsi in Mukingo and adjoining communes in 1994. At the time of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, Kajelijeli was mayor of Mukingo. Lawyers American Professor Lennox Hinds and Professor Nkeyi Bompaka of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) represent Kajelijeli. The defence intends to present about 30 witnesses. Wrong place, wrong timeHinds argues that Kajelijeli was mayor for only three weeks (in June) during the 1994 events and that the prosecution has alleged his guilt by association. He added that Kajelijeli fled the country as did other refugees to the Congo, Congo Brazzaville and finally to Benin. The counsel maintains that Kajelijeli was arrested because he happened to be in the house of somebody being sought by the Tribunal (Joseph Nzirorera, currently in the custody of the ICTR). "It is apparently clear that prosecution had no information on him except for what they had when they swept across Africa making arrests of suspects," said Hinds. "He was at the wrong place at the wrong time," he added. 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. This Chamber is also hearing alternately, the 'Butare Trial' and the trial of former Minister for Higher Education Jean de Dieu Kamuhanda. Kamuhanda's trial was this week adjourned to January next year, and the Butare trial is scheduled to resume in October. SW/FH(KJ-0913e)