Arusha, November 22, 2001 (FH) - The defence counsel for former Rwandan mayor and genocide suspect Laurent Semanza on Thursday asked judges of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) to intervene over Tuesday night's arrest of a translator serving his team. Lawyer Charles Taku urged the court to assist in the recovery of documents from the translator which he said were sensitive.

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The translator, going by the name Patrick Ssimbwa Bugingo, was arrested by the Tanzanian authorities over possession and use of a fake Ugandan passport. His real identity has not yet been revealed. Reliable sources suggest that the translator is a Rwandan. He was hired three months ago, to assist in translating documents into Kinyarwanda (the Rwandan language) for Semanza. Taku (Cameroon/US) insisted the man was not part of Semanza's defence team, but rather a "freelance translator hired by the Registry". He said the translator had been chosen by the ICTR Registry, despite the fact that the defence team had proposed another candidate. Taku said he was not warned when the translator was "denounced", otherwise he would have liaised with the Registry to retrieve the documents. "We would have collaborated with the Registry but they ignored us," Taku told the court. Prosecutor Chile Eboe Osuji said that although he had sympathy for the defence, the court should be cautious in interfering, because the matter was in the hands of local police authorities. The court advised defence to contact the Registry and exhaust all possible means of retrieving the documents before requesting the Tribunal's intervention. "Let it be on the record, so that in future they (the Registry) should contact the defence," said Taku. This case is before the ICTR's Trial Chamber Three, composed of judges Yakov Ostrovsky of Russia (presiding), Lloyd George Williams of St. Kitts and Nevis and Pavel Dolenc of Slovenia. SW/JC/PHD/FH (SE1122F)