Arusha, April 8, 2002 (FH) - Two more witnesses have boycotted the UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in Arusha, Tanzania, until the Tribunal resolves the issue of alleged mistreatment of witnesses by Tribunal officials, Chief Prosecutor Carla Del Ponte said on Monday. Ten other prosecution witnesses refused to testify at the ICTR late last month.

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The spokesman of the Tribunal, Kingsley Moghalu, said their refusal "is probably related" to a decision by genocide survivors' organisations to sever co-operation with the tribunal. The witnesses were due to testify on Monday in the genocide trial of former mayor of Mukingo commune Juvénal Kajelijeli. "They (the witnesses) say they can't come to testify after a radio announcement by the association of survivors that they should not appear before this Tribunal", Del Ponte told the court. "The witnesses have indicated that they are waiting to be told over radio that they can appear before the court", she added. The court adjourned to Wednesday to give time to the witnesses and victims support section of the ICTR to contact the witnesses. Del Ponte called on the Tribunal to resolve the matter as soon as possible. "Other trials may face the same problem", she said. The Rwandan genocide survivors' organisation, IBUKA, suspended cooperation with the ICTR in January, after a highly publicised controversial court hearing late last year in which judges appeared to be laughing as a rape victim testified. IBUKA later "relaxed" the suspension, following an agreement between the ICTR and the Rwandan government to set up a joint commission to investigate the allegations of mistreatment of witnesses at the ICTR. The commission was unable to begin its work as expected on April 1st 2002, because both parties are in disagreement over its mandate. According to the Rwandan authorities the commission should also investigate allegations about genocide suspects working at the Tribunal. The ten witnesses who refused to testify last month in the so-called 'Butare' trial were deleted from the witnesses' list by the court. The hearing of the case against Juvénal Kajelijeli is before ICTR's Trial Chamber Two, composed of Judges William Hussein Sekule of Tanzania (presiding), Arlette Ramaroson (Madagascar) and Winston Churchill Matanzima Maqutu (Lesotho). Kajelijeli was mayor of Mukingo (Ruhengeri prefecture, northwest Rwanda) during the 1994 genocide. He has pleaded not guilty to 11 counts of genocide and crimes against humanity. Prosecution maintains he instigated, planned and participated in the killing of ethnic Tutsi in Mukingo and adjoining communes in 1994. The case had been adjourned in December after the hearing of 14 prosecution witnesses. GG/JA/FH(KJ-0408e)