Arusha, May 4, 2003 (FH) - The former Mayor of Mukingo who is on trial at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) gave his testimony before the tribunal from April 14 to 23, 2003. The 28th and last defence witness, Juvenal Kajelijeli, 52, is charged with 11 counts of genocide and crimes against humanity against Tutsis in Rwanda between April and July 1994.

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The crimes are said to have been committed in Mukingo and surrounding areas. Kajelijeli became mayor of Mukingo on two occasions; between 1988 and 1993 and from June to July 1994 when he took refuge in the former Zaire, now the Democratic Republic of Congo, then on to Congo Brazzaville. He moved on to Cotonou, Benin from where he was arrested June 5, 1998. Throughout his testimony, the accused never ceased to proclaim his innocence, arguing that he was himself a victim of the 1994 events. “I have been living with a great pain in my heart”, he declared, explaining that he had lost Tutsi friends and relatives during the genocide. The prosecutor alleges that the former mayor personally led and supervised attacks launched by Interahamwe against in Tutsis different in different parts of Mukingo and Nkuli communes. Two sites where the biggest massacres took place continuously came up in testimonies; Busogo catholic parish in Mukingo, and Rwankeli Adventist mission in Nkuli. . "There were no Interahamwe training camps in Mukingo"The accused does not deny the fact that the massacres took place, but insists that they occurred before June 26, 1994, the date he took over as mayor for the second time. He said that prior to that date, he only came to learn of the massacres from third parties, adding that he was then living in neighbouring Nkuli where he owned a house. Among those he claimed to have informed him of the killings was Pastor Phénéas Karekezi of the Rwankeli Adventist mission. The accused said that on April 7, 1994, the pastor told him that “the mission was under siege by young louts from the surrounding areas”. He continued that on the next day, he went to see the mayor of Nkuli, Dominique Gatsimbanyi, to glean information from Mukingo. “Gatsimbanyi was in a state of shock. He told me that he had just learned of massacres in Mukingo and that had left even law enforcing agencies overwhelmed”, Kajelijeli testified. Kajelijeli swore “in the name of the Almighty God” that he was never the head of Interahamwe in Mukingo. The Interahamwe, principle players during the 1994 genocide, were the youth wing of Mouvement républicain national pour la démocratie et le développement (MRND). Kajelijeli asserted that he had never known of any organisation going by the name of Interahamwe in Mukingo Commune. “Go and ask the president of MRND at that time. I was never a member of any political organisation at the advent of multiparties”, he claimed. Multiparty democracy was officially recognised in Rwanda by the June 10, 1991 constitution. In the same vein, the former mayor denied allegations that he personally supervised the training of Interahamwe militia at Mukingo communal offices between February 1993 and April 1994. “To my knowledge no training ever took place in Mukingo”, he said. The accused also denied ever being a “a friend or close associate” of Adjudant Karorero, whom, the prosecution maintains, was the main trainer of the militia. But prosecution witnesses, among them former militiamen detained in Rwanda, claimed in their testimonies before the tribunal that they had received training, arms and ammunition as well as orders from the accused. “Thieves or delinquents”Kajelijeli went his way out to sow doubt as to the credibility of the witnesses. According to him, they were either driven by revenge or were paid informers working for genocide survivors associations. “it was easy to get witnesses to testify against me” said the accused. ” All it needed was to approach IBUKA (one of the main 1994 genocide survivors' associations)”, the accused pointed out, adding that some witnesses had signed contracts to frame him. Other prosecution witnesses were labelled by the accused as either “thieves or delinquents” who had been punished when he was still mayor. “They are out to settle scores”, he insisted. One of the 14 prosecution witnesses, a former member of the Interahamwe militia, codenamed “GAO” to protect his identity, in July 2001 testified before the tribunal that he had participated in the massacres of 600 Tutsis under the orders of Juvenal Kajelijeli. Three days of crossexaminationKajelijeli's testimony was sometimes dominated by long answers. His American counsel, Lennox Hinds, had to intervene, on many occasions, to remind his client during reexamination, to give short and concise answers. The presiding judge of Trial Chamber Two, William Hussein Sekule, also occasionally had to call the accused to order: “We do not have time to waste on useless information”, the Tanzanian judge at one time sternly reminded the accused. The prosecution on the other hand, complained that the accused was not forthcoming and was giving evasive answers. “My lord, I would like it to go on record that the accused is elusive in his answers”, Ifeona Ojemini for the prosecutor requested during her crossexamination. Kajelijeli on his part never ceased to argue that the prosecutor's questions were both imprecise and confusing. “Mr president, your honours, do you yourselves understand that question?, personally I do not”, the accuse at one time said, asking the tribunal to “help the prosecutor pose her questions in a clear manner". Judge Sekule at one time dryly responded to the accused, ordering him “not to act in that manner again”. Kajelijeli's testimony marked the end of the defence team's presentation of evidence. The prosecution finished presenting its case April 10, 2002 after calling 14 witnesses. The chamber begun hearing arguments March 13, 2001, but had to interrupt after the death of one of the judges, Judge Laïty Kama form Senegal who passed away in May of the same year. It resumed on July 14, 2001 after the chamber was reconstituted. Trial Chamber Two of the ICTR is composed of Judge Willia Sekule (presiding), Arlette Ramaroson of Madagascar and Winston Churchill Matanzima Maqutu from Lesotho. KN/ER/CE/FH (KJ'0504e)