Juvenal Kajelijeli was arrested, at the request of the Chief Prosecutor of the ICTR (International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda), on 5 June 1998 in Benin at the home of Joseph Nzirorera. On 9 September 1998, he was transferred to the prison quarters of the United Nations in Arusha, Tanzania.
At his initial court appearances on 7 and 8 April 1999, Kajelijeli pleaded not guilty to the 11 counts with which he was charged. Whereas, initially, Kajelijeli had been charged together with 8 other persons, in June 2000 the ICTR decreed a separate trial for Kajelijeli. After the amendment was made to the indictment on 25 January 2001, Kajelijeli again pleaded not guilty. His trial began on 13 March 2001, but following the sudden death of judge Laity Kama, the trial was restarted from the beginning on 4 July 2001 before the Trial Chamber with two new judges.
On 13 September 2002, he was acquitted on counts 10 and 11 of the indictment (war crimes). Finally, after hearing the testimony of many witnesses and after a trial lasting 78 days, the Chamber retired on 16 July 2003 to consider its verdict.
On 1 December 2003, the Second Trial Chamber pronounced its verdict and declared – unanimously – that Juvenal Kajelijeli was: not guilty of “conspiracy to commit genocide” (1st count), guilty of “genocide” (2nd count), guilty of “direct and public incitement to commit genocide” (4th count), guilty of “extermination as a crime against humanity” (6th count), not guilty of “rape as a crime against humanity” (7th count), but with judge Arlette Ramaroson issuing a dissenting opinion on this last subject. Finally, he was also declared not guilty of “inhumane acts as a crime against humanity” (9th count).
He was sentenced to life imprisonment, the maximum term provided for by the ICTR. An appeal was lodged against this sentence
On May 23, 2005, the Appeals Chamber of the ICTR found that Kajelijeli’s rights had been violated during his arrest and detention and therefore reduced his sentence to 45 years imprisonment.
On 27 June 2009, Juvenal Kajelijeli was transferred to Cotonou, Benin, to serve the rest of his sentence.