Arusha, June 4, 2001 (FH) The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) on Monday denied a prosecution request that any documents seized from arrested Tribunal defence investigator Siméon Nshamihigo be handed over to the Prosecution. It instead ordered that they be submitted to the defence.

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Nshamihigo was arrested by Tanzanian authorities on May 19th, at the request of the ICTR Prosecutor, and held by the Tanzanian authorities on immigration charges. At the time of his arrest, he was working for the ICTR with a false name and passport. He was handed over on May 25th to the ICTR, whose Prosecutor is investigating him for involvement in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. Nshamihigo was deputy-prosecutor of Cyangugu, southwest Rwanda, during the 1994 genocide. Prior to his arrest, he was an investigator for the defence team of former Cyangugu military leader Samuel Imanishimwe, currently on trial before the ICTR with two other genocide suspects. Submitting on May 23rd its request for custody of any documents seized from Nshamihigo, the prosecution said it was "apprehensive" that the suspect's continued possession of documents "exposes past and present witnesses" and that "the said material may fall into unsafe hands". The Chamber ruled, however, that any seized documents should be given to Imanishimwe's Cameroonian defence lawyer Marie-Louise Mbida, who had argued that any seized material should be returned to the defence. Sick judgeMeanwhile, defence lawyers for the three accused in the Cyangugu Trial on Monday argued for an adjournment on the basis that the absence of one judge could prejudice their clients. The Cyangugu trial groups former Cyangugu military commander Imanishimwe, former Cyangugu prefect Emmanuel Bagambiki and former Transport Minister André Ntagerura. All have pleaded not guilty to charges of genocide and crimes against humanity for their alleged roles in massacres of Tutsis in Cyangugu in 1994. The case is before the ICTR's Trial Chamber Three, composed of judges Lloyd Williams of St. Kitts and Nevis (presiding), Judge Yakov Ostrovsky of Russia and Pavel Dolenc of Slovenia. Judge Ostrovsky was absent from court on Monday. Informed sources said this was for health reasons. Defence counsel for the accused argued that their clients would be prejudiced if the case continued in the absence of one judge. They said it was important for all the judges to see the demeanour of the witnesses. "We attach importance to each one of our judges, and we will not accept any one of you being absent," said French co-counsel Hamuli Rety for Ntagerura. Canadian co-counsel Luc Boutin for Bagambiki said: "It is not a matter of the duration of the proceedings, it is the quality. "The court refused their request for adjournment, however, citing an ICTR Rule that allows proceedings to continue with two judges for a limited time "not exceeding five days". Judge Williams said that the court would sit for three days (if necessary) without Judge Ostrovsky. The Chamber heard the testimony of the 37th prosecution, witness dubbed "LCG" to protect his identity. He was the eighth consecutive witness to testify about the April 2000 exhumation of victims killed in Cyangugu in April 1994 and buried in a mass grave. SW/JC/FH (CY0604e)