Arusha, July 16, 2003 (FH)- Professor Lennox Hinds, the lead defence counsel for former Mukingo Mayor and genocide suspect, Juvenal Kajelijeli on Wednesday asked the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda to acquit his client on all the charges he is facing. Professor Hinds who was winding up the closing arguments told the trial chamber, “Kajelijeli must be acquitted because it has taken two years, and the prosecution has failed to prove that the accused is guilty.

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”On Tuesday, the prosecutor, Ifoema Ojemeni of Nigeria asked the court to sentence Kajelijeli to life imprisonment. She argued that the prosecution had proved its case beyond reasonable doubt through the evidence it adduced. But the defence counsel in response said the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses were full of contradictions. “The prosecution has not met the burden of proving the case beyond reasonable doubt,” Prof Hinds declared. Kajelijeli, 52, is facing eight counts of genocide and crimes against humanity committed between April and July 1994. These crimes were allegedly committed against Tutsis in Mukingo commune in Ruhengeri prefecture (Northwest Rwanda) and surrounding areas. He further argued that Kajelijeli was arrested simply because he was found in the house of Joseph Nzirorera in Benin. Nzirorera is a former Secretary General of MRND party and is under the custody of ICTR awaiting trial. “They arrested him then decided to seek for evidence. They went around looking for witnesses from 1998 to 2000, “Professor Hinds said. The prosecution, Professor Hinds said, had failed to prove that Kajelijeli was a founder and leader of the Interahamwe. There was no documentary evidence from the prosecution to support the allegation. Kajelijeli's co-counsel, Nkeyi Bompaka (Congo) told the Chamber the prosecution had failed to bring witnesses to contradict Kajelijeli's alibi defence. He added that Kajelijeli was with his two families in Nkuli and Mukingo between April 7 th to 9 th contrary to allegations that he was at various crime scenes. After the defence had completed their arguments, Judge William Hussein Sekule (Tanzania),presiding, adjourned the trial indefinetly. He said the chamber would deliberate on the case after which it will announce the date for the judgment. Kajelijeli trial is before Trial Chamber II composed of Judge Sekule, Judge Arlette Ramaroson (Madagascar) and Judge Winston Churchill Matanzima Maqutu (Lesotho). PJ/CE/FH (KJ'0716e)