Arusha, May 21, 2001 (FH) The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) on Monday applied to a Tribunal judge for provisional detention of an ICTR defence investigator, arrested at the weekend and currently in the hands of the Tanzanian authorities. An official press release said that Simeon Nshamihigo, who had been using an assumed name, "was briefly detained by ICTR security last Saturday before being arrested by the Tanzanian police outside the tribunal premises".

1 min 44Approximate reading time

The Tanzanian authorities are holding the suspect on immigration charges, but the ICTR had requested his arrest for genocide. ICTR spokesman Kingsley Moghalu meanwhile stressed that defence investigators were not UN staff but contractors engaged by defence counsel and that the Tribunal had already tightened its screening process for such people. "We have taken very seriously allegations of the possibility there may be defence investigators who are linked to the genocide," he told Hirondelle news agency on Monday, "and the Registry has taken measures of its own to enforce the security screening process for defence investigators. "He said, however, that the ICTR currently lacks the means to tackle the problem fully. "One of the things you have to understand," he said, "is that the Registry does not have in its arsenal investigators as such. The Prosecutor obviously has, but they can only investigate for the crimes they are pursuing. In the Registry itself, we conduct some investigations in the context of these people being authorized to be defence investigators. Now there could be any number of reasons why such a person could slip through the net. For example this gentleman, we now know, had a false passport, he has a false nationality. It may not always be possible to discover those types of things, because we are not a police force. (…) You just can never know whether somebody can slip through the net or not. "The arrest comes after the Rwandan government in March complained that some investigators working for defence teams at the ICTR were genocide fugitives. Two other investigators currently working for Tribunal defence teams appear on Rwanda's Category One list of top genocide suspects. Asked whether anything was being done about the other investigators in question, Moghalu replied: "I think that's for the Prosecutor to answer. " He reiterated that the Rwandan government's Category One list was only one consideration in the UN screening process for defence investigators. "It is part of what could be considered," Moghalu told Hirondelle, "but it is not, and cannot be the exclusive reference check for defence investigators. "Simeon Nshamihigo was prosecutor for the southern Rwandan region of Cyangugu at the time of the 1994 genocide. He had been working for the defence team of former Cyangugu military commander Samuel Imanishimwe, currently on trial before the ICTR. JC/FH (NG0521e)