Arusha, November 26, 2001 (FH) - An International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) translator arrested for using a fake passport on Monday pleaded not guilty to immigration charges before a Tanzanian court. The court is to decide on Wednesday whether the man should be released on bail.

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Prosecutor Francis Erasmi told Arusha Resident Magistrate's court that Patrick Ssimbwa Bugingo, a Rwandan citizen, was arrested last Tuesday and "found by immigration officers to have unlawfully possession of a forged Ugandan passport, no. B 121305". Bugingo's lawyer Wilfred Milambo said that as his client had pleaded not guilty, he should be released on bail pending a trial. But Prosecutor Erasmi argued that the accused could escape, and that he might "interfere with the investigations", as investigations were still under way. The lawyer replied that his client would not be able to escape because the immigration services had confiscated his passport, and that several people were willing to act as guarantors, including Bugingo's landlord who was a police officer. Prosecutor for the Tanzanian immigration services Erasmi told Hirondelle he was not aware of an extradition request from the government of Rwanda. Kigali on Friday asked Tanzania to extradite Bugingo for "falsification of documents" and "contravening legal procedures of acquiring dual citizenship". The maximum penalty under Rwandan law is 10 years in prison. The request was transmitted from the Rwandan to the Tanzanian police, through the Foreign Ministry in Dar es Salaam. Bugingo was hired by the ICTR in August to work for the defence team of former Rwandan mayor Laurent Semanza, currently on trial before the Tribunal. Semanza had asked for a translator into the Rwandan language Kinyarwanda, because he says he does not understand either French or English (the official ICTR languages) well. Last Thursday, Semanza's defence lawyer asked judges of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) to intervene to recover "sensitive" Tribunal documents from the arrested translator. Lawyer Charles Taku (Cameroon/US) said the ICTR Registry had done nothing to retrieve the documents, and had not alerted the defence. The court told Taku he shouldcontact the Registry and exhaust all possible means of retrieving the documents before requesting the judges' intervention. JC/BN/DO/FH (RW1126e)