A Defence team investigator at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) was arrested by the Tanzanian authorities on Saturday 19 May 2001 at the request of the ICTR Prosecutor.
The investigator, who has been travelling on a Congolese passport under an assumed name of Sammy Bahati Weza, is actually Simeon Nshamihigo, who was deputy prosecutor in Cyangugu Prefecture during the genocide. At the time of his arrest he was working for the defence team of Samuel Imanishimwe, one of the three defendants in the “Cyangugu Trial”. The other defendants are former Minister of Transport André Ntagerura and the former Prefect of Cyangugu Emmanuel Bagambiki.
Nshamihigo, who was briefly detained by the ICTR security last Saturday before being arrested by the Tanzanian police outside the Tribunal premises, is still in the custody of the Tanzanian authorities pending a formal handover to the ICTR.
The Prosecutor has today made an application to a Judge of the ICTR for provisional detention of the suspect under Rule 40 bis of the Tribunal’s Rules of Procedure and Evidence. This Rule allows provisional detention of a suspect for an initial period of 30 days, which can be renewed by the Tribunal.
Defence investigators are not staff members of the ICTR. They are independent contractors recruited by defence counsel as part of the defence teams and their fees are part of the legal aid package for indigent accused persons funded by the ICTR. Defence teams are independent in the manner in which they prepare their defence.
A UN report issued on 1st February 2001 concerning allegations of fee-splitting between some defence counsel and their clients pointed out that none of the defence investigators had ever visited Rwanda during the course of their work. In the light of that report, the Tribunal early this year instituted a more rigorous screening process to ensure that legal aid given to the accused is not abused.
Simeon Nshamihigo was born in 1959 in Commune Gatare of Cyangugu Prefecture.