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Belot Interpreter

Belot Interpreter

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Published by Ron Sylvester
U.S. District Juge Monti Belot's letter regarding an interpreter in the case of a man from Rwanda facing trial in Wichita. Lazare Kobagaya has been charged with an immigration violation and for participating in the genocide in Rwanda. He has pleaded not guilty.
U.S. District Juge Monti Belot's letter regarding an interpreter in the case of a man from Rwanda facing trial in Wichita. Lazare Kobagaya has been charged with an immigration violation and for participating in the genocide in Rwanda. He has pleaded not guilty.

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Published by: Ron Sylvester on Dec 16, 2010
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12/16/2010

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UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURTDISTRICT OF KANSAS
MONTI L. BELOTJudge
December 16, 2010
111 U.S. Courthouse401 N. MarketWichita, Kansas 67202
(316) 315-4340
ALL COUNSEL OF RECORDRe: United States v. Kobagaya, Case No. 09-10005-01Dear Counsel:I have discussed the events of Tuesday morning with JudgeBostwick and Jamie Haig. Upon reflection, I believe my decision toadjourn the status hearing was premature. Had I spoken with theinterpreter, I believe the hearing could have gone forward to asatisfactory conclusion. Nevertheless, what occurred provided avaluable “heads-up” to a possible problem, the solution to whichthis letter addresses.All of us recognize the importance of providing the court, thejury, counsel and defendant with the services of qualifiedinterpreters. Defendant’s language, apparently Kinyarwanda, isuncommon in Wichita, to say the least. It may be that the languagehas more than one dialect. I don’t know. What I do know, however,is that there are not a lot of Kinyarwanda interpreters available,especially ones who are willing to travel to Africa for depositionsand to Wichita for a long trial. Jamie has spent hours and hoursworking with the Administrative Office and other sources to obtaina qualified interpreter or interpreters. The interpreter whoappeared on Tuesday, Mr. Niyitegyeka, is experienced and isconsidered “professionally qualified” by the Administrative Office.Ms. Morgan reported that defendant’s son told her that Mr.Niyitegyeka was not accurately interpreting Ms. Morgan’s statementsto defendant. Whether or not the son’s comments were true,accurate or objective (and I’m not suggesting any wrongful conducton his part at this point), neither Ms. Morgan nor I nor anyoneelse has, or will ever have, the ability to verify the accuracy ofany interpreter’s translations. We must rely on the skill andintegrity of the interpreter.Here’s how we’re going to proceed: If counsel can agree on afull set of interpreters who will commit to be available for thedepositions and trial, that will be acceptable. Mr. Niyitegyeka isavailable and must be given very serious consideration.Defendant’s family members are not to be involved in this process.If no agreement can be reached, I will assign Mr. Niyitegyeka tointerpret for the court, which means he will be speaking to thejury, both through the deposition process and at trial. If asecond interpreter is required to spell Mr. Niyitegyeka, I willselect that person with Jamie’s assistance.
Case 6:09-cr-10005-MLB -DWB Document 233 Filed 12/16/10 Page 1 of 2

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