Arusha, April 25, 2001 (FH) The last prosecution witness in the case of former Rwandan mayor Laurent Semanza will be Ivorian professor and former UN special rapporteur on human rights in Rwanda René Degni-Ségui, prosecution told the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) on Wednesday. Degni-Ségui, who will testify as an expert witness, has already submitted a report to the court.

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Prosecutor Chile Oboe-Osuji of Nigeria suggested that considering "scheduling difficulties", this report could stand as the witness's testimony in chief, meaning that Degni-Ségui would only come to court to be cross-questioned by defence. The court approved this proposal. Semanza meanwhile complained to the court that he did not understand what was going on in his case, even though the trial is well advanced. The accused reiterated his demand for Kinyarwanda translations of documents being communicated to him. His complaint, which he said he had made numerous times, came during defence cross-questioning of the second-to-last prosecution witness, French sociologist André Guichaoua. "Your Honour, I have been asking for a long time for a translator," Semanza told the presiding judge in halting French. "I don't understand English and my French is not very good. I have sent letters to the Registry and got no reply. I am still being sent documents in English and French. You see that you are trying someone who doesn't understand what is going on, what stage things have got to. In fact you are trying a deaf person. You see what stage the trial is at, I will almost have got to the end of my case without knowing what it's about. "Presiding judge Yakov Ostrovsky of Russia told the defendant that he had a right to receive documents in a language he understood. "The Registry understands this," said Judge Ostrovsky, "and the necessary measures will be taken. "Semanza's anglophone defence counsel Charles Taku of Cameroon stressed that the problem was serious. He said many of the documents he had to discuss with his client were confidential and that he had to resort to third parties, whereas this went against confidentiality. Prosecutor Osuji argued that the problem was not serious as, according to the English translation he had heard, Semanza's statements in French were coherent enough. However, the court considered that the problem was serious and that it needed an appropriate solution. The former mayor also raised the problem of his francophone co-counsel Sadikou Alao of Benin, who has been absent from court since December. Semanza said he had received no communication from Alao for nearly five months and that he had been told the co-counsel was to undergo surgery in France. The court advised lead counsel Taku to resolve the problem with the ICTR Registry. Semanza is charged with 14 counts of genocide and crimes against humanity for massacres committed in the Bicumbi and Gikoro communes of central Rwanda during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. GA/BN/AT/JC/FH (SE0425e)