Arusha, March 31, 2003 (FH) - The twentyfifth defence witness for genocide suspect Juvenal Kajelijeli, former Mayor of Mukingo commune in Ruhengeri prefecture, North West Rwanda, on Monday told the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) that he never saw the accused nor his vehicle at Byangabo and Rwankeri massacre sites, as claimed by the prosecution. Led in his examination inchief by the accused counsel, Lennox Hinds of the United States, the witness, dubbed MLNA to protect his identity said he was among the 300 to 400 people who were at the two sites but never saw the former Mayor there.

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He explained that while at Byangabo market area on April 7, 1994,a day after the death of the former Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana, he heard different groups of young people discussing about the possible killer of the late President. He told the court that some said he was killed by the Rwandan Resistance Army (RPF), which was mainly Tutsi dominated. Following the discussion, others including him decided to go to Rwankeri, where Tutsis lived. "I followed them just because of my curiosity to know what would happen at Rwankeri," MLNA said. He added that when they got there, they discovered that the Tutsis had fled to a nearby Busogo hill. The young men whom he followed were equipped with traditional weapons including spears, clubs, sharpen sticks and machetes just like the Tutsis who were on top of Busogo hill. MLNA further explained that shortly after the arrival at Busogo hill the two groups started fighting each other using stones and traditional weapons. He added he only heard gun shots later on. He said a lot of people were killed and those who survived ran away including himself. He repeated that on his way from Byangabo to Rwankeri and Busogo hill, he never saw the accused nor his vehicle. Most of his testimony in the morning session was held in camera. The ICTR prosecutor, Ifeona Ojemini of Nigeria took the floor in the afternoon to crossquestion the witness immediately after the defence had finished examinationinchief with the witness. The trial, which will continue for four weeks up to April, 24th, was adjourned on December 12, 2002 as the Tribunal was proceeding for judicial recess. This session expects to hear the last five defence witnesses, including the accused. Kajelijeli 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 Tutsis in Mukingo and adjoining communes in 1994. The hearing continues on Tuesday before Trial Chamber Two composed of Judges William Sekule of Tanzania (presiding), Arlette Ramaroson of Madagascar and Winston Churchill Matanzima Maquitu of Lesotho. NI/CE/FH(KJ'0331e)