The trial of Juvenal Kajelijeli, former Mayor of Mukingo Commune, Ruhengeri Prefecture, began today before Trial Chamber II of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), composed of Judge Laïty Kama, presiding, and Judges William Sekule and Mehmet Güney.
Mr. Kajelijeli is charged with genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide, and crimes against humanity including rape and extermination.
Opening the trial on behalf of the Prosecutor, Senior Trial Attorney, Mr. Ken Fleming Q.C. said that, during the course of the trial, he will present evidence to prove that the accused organised mass killings of Tutsi civilians barely ten hours after President Habyarimana’s plane was shot down on April 6, 1994.
According to the Prosecutor, the plane crash served as a “starter’s flag for one of the most barbaric events in the history of mankind”. Kajelijeli is alleged to have supervised the killing of Tutsi civilians in Mukingo Commune, at Busogo Parish and at Ruhengeri Court of Appeal. “The Parish where people go for prayer, and the Court of Appeal where people go for justice became centres of injustice and massive infringement of human rights” said the Prosecutor in his opening statement. Mr. Kajelijeli is also alleged to have led Interahamwe militia to the homes of two Tutsi families in which some 80 people were killed and only 2 survived, and those survivors will be invited by the Prosecution to testify against him.
The opening of Kajelijeli’s case before Trial Chamber II, brings the number of trials in progress before the Tribunal to four, involving eight accused altogether. The Media Trial which involves Hassan Ngeze, former Editor of Kangura newspaper, Ferdinand Nahimana, former Director of RTLM and Jean Bosco Barayagwiza, former Director General in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is being heard before Trial Chamber I.
There are also two trials currently being heard before Trial Chamber III: The Cyangugu Trial which involves three individuals; André Ntagerura, former Transport Minister, Emmanuel Bagambiki, former Perfect of Cyangugu, and Emmanuel Imanishimwe former commander of Cyangugu military barracks. The second trial before the Chamber is that of Laurent Semanza, former Mayor of Bicumbi Commune of Kigali Rural Prefecture.
The trial of Ignace Bagilishema was concluded last October and judgement is expected shortly. Further trials are scheduled to begin in the next few months.