7 May 2008

Kenya: Kabuga's Property Frozen

Nairobi — Rwandan fugitive Felicien Kabuga will no longer access Sh290,000 rent from Kenya after the High Court froze his property in Nairobi.

This follows a successful application by the Government for the property - Spanish Villas on Lenana Road in Nairobi - to be frozen pending his arrest.

Attorney general Amos Wako went to court under a certificate of urgency, seeking, among other things, the freezing of the property.

Assist in arrest

Through the director of Public Prosecutions, Mr Keriako Tobiko, the AG said there had been numerous calls by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda for Kenya to assist in the arrest and surrender of Mr Kabuga to the court based in Arusha.

He said Mr Kabuga had evaded arrest since 1997 when he was indicted over crimes against humanity.

Mr Tobiko said Mr Kabuga was wanted by the ICTR for various international crimes, including genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, incitement and complicity in genocide.

The crimes were committed in 1994 in Rwanda, where close to one million people were killed. Mr Tobiko said there had been numerous calls - especially to Kenya, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Republic of Congo - to cooperate with the ICTR.

He said in December 2007 a joint team of investigators from ICTR and the Kenya Police was formed to trace the fugitive.

He said the team later discovered that Mr Kabuga was receiving Sh290,000 after every three months from the property in Nairobi.

The Department of Public Prosecutions suspected that the money was assisting the fugitive evade arrest and justice.

The money, said Mr Tobiko, was usually sent by wire by a firm managing the property - Kenya Trust Company Limited - every three months to an account co-owned by Mr Kabuga and his wife Josephine Mukazitoni in Belgium.

Mr Tobiko said initially the fugitive operated an account at Commercial Bank of Africa in Nairobi but it was closed on September 22, 2006, after which Kenya Trust Company started sending Sh290,000 in French francs. Although the physical address of the Kenya Trust Company Ltd is not known, it was contracted to collect the rental on behalf of Mr Kabuga and his wife in June 26, 1998.

Security Council

While seeking the freeze, the DPP said Kenya would be required to report the matter to the UN Security Council as it was signatory to the UN Charter and a member.

He said the country could face UN sanctions if it does not comply.

Mr Tobiko said the matter was urgent since the ICTR was expected to wind up it hearings by the end of this year.

"Kenya has the legal and moral obligation to assist in the prosecution of international crimes of any nature wherever committed," he said.

In his ruling, Mr Justice Muga Apondi said although Mr Kabuga is considered innocent, he should come out of his hiding and tell his story.

The judge further ordered the money collected from the rental be deposited with the deputy registrar at the High Court.

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