28 July 2012

Kenya: Venezuela Ambassador Found Dead in Runda

The Nairobi High Court has denied an application by the Venezuela aeputy ambassador to Kenya, Dwight Sagaray, to be released on bail. According to the ... ( Resource: Venezuelan Diplomat Denied Bail in Kenya )

The killer of the Venezuela Embassy Charge d'Affaires, Olga Fonseca, was well known to her, the Star has established.

Last evening police collected a bottle of Johnnie Walker whisky, which the diplomat and the suspected killer or killers could have shared moments before Fonseca was found dead at her residence in Runda.

Police also collected sheets and clothes from her bedroom where the body was discovered yesterday morning. Police received information about her death yesterday morning from Embassy officials who had gone to her house to pick her up and take her to the office in Gigiri.

When Fonseca had not emerged from her bedroom by 10am, security guards and diplomatic police officers who guard the ambassador's residence went to check on her, they discovered she was dead with a noose around her neck and visible bruises on her wrists. Investigators also noted that her mobile phone was used to send a text message to a staff member at her office informing them she would would not be going to the office yesterday because she was feeling tired.

Investigators suspect the SMS, which was not delivered to the intended recipient, was aimed at concealing the murder. Informed sources said the envoy could have been killed in her sitting room and dragged to the bedroom, where the noose was tied around her neck.

Sources also believe her killers may have raped her before killing her. Four domestic workers are in police custody. Nairobi police boss Anthony Kibuchi said the postmortem will be carried out at the scene. Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials also visited her home. Fonseca had clashed with some of her domestic workers after she sacked them over what she had described as "insubordination".

However, the workers maintained they were sacked because they refused to disown a sexual harassment complaint (OB No.34 of April 23, 2012) they filed with diplomatic police at Gigiri against Fonseca's predecessor Ambassador Gerardo Carillo Silva. Six workers were fired on Wednesday. Several meetings between the workers' lawyer Ngure Mbugua, Fonseca and officials from the Foreign Affairs ministry ended in a stalemate.

Sources said Foreign Affairs minister Sam Ongeri had demanded a full briefing from his officers on the happenings at the embassy. On Wednesday, Fonseca disconnected all phones in the embassy except her office line, sources said. "She wanted all calls from outside to go to her first." Fonseca is said to have stayed late in the office on Wednesday to oversee the change of her office door locks. It is not clear if she also changed the locks at her residence.

According to documents in our possession, the new envoy contracted the services of a local law firm, Mucheru-Oyatta & Associates, seeking a legal opinion on whether the embassy can terminate the services of the said staff. In her submission to the lawyers, Fonseca said she had lost confidence in the staff members whom she said disregarded her express instructions. She said she was apprehensive that her security and well being were under threat.

In the lawyers' documents, it is indicated that Fonseca reported for duty as the new Charge d'Affaires to replace a Mr Dwight on Monday July 16, 2012. A search on the embassy's website indicates that a man by the name Dwight Asdrubal Sagaray C is the embassy's First Secretary. Dwight took charge of the embassy after the recall of Ambassador Gerardo Carillo Silva and was in charge until the arrival of Fonseca.

The document indicates that on Friday July 20, Dwight "came to the residence and caused a confrontation with M/s Fonseca which resulted in Mr. Dwight asking the staff members to leave the residence with him." "Despite M/s Fonseca's verbal warning to the staff not to leave with Mr. Dwight, the staff members left the embassy residence with Mr. Dwight," the lawyers captured in their legal opinion to the embassy on the dismissal of the domestic workers.

The lawyers said Fonseca had lost confidence in the staff members "who disregarded her express instructions," and were in were in direct communication with Dwight. "M/s Fonseca is apprehensive that her security and well being are threatened by Mr. Dwight to whom the employees appear to be loyal," said the lawyers. Fonseca had requested the law firm to submit a legal opinion on whether the embassy can terminate the services of the domestic staff working at the residence based on the Kenya's employment laws and specifically the Employment Act of 2007.

The lawyers in their opinion advised that the embassy since the staff at the embassy residence had stopped performing their duties and were going against the instructions of Fonseca who was placed in authority over them by the Venezuela government, it was justified they be summarily dismissed. The lawyers said the employees were in breach of their employment contracts. "The fact that they are in direct communication with an officer who has been removed from authority by their employer and to whom they have divulged and continue to divulge information of the goings on at the embassy further underpins this position," the law firm stated.

The lawyers noted that the domestic staff could have gotten confused and felt under threat when faced with the agony of deciding whether to follow the orders of Dwight or Fonseca. "This situation was not created by the employees but by a renegade employee of the embassy who had been placed in authority over these domestic staff members," the law firm said. It added that if their disobedience of Fonseca's orders was the only reason for their dismissal, a court could find that the employees have been victimized and did not disobey voluntarily.

"It is crucial therefore that this situation is dealt with having the aforesaid in mind and in these circumstances, it would be prudent not to involve M/s Fonseca in the procedure of investigating the situation and taking action against the employees so that the actions by the embassy as regards the employees is seen to be objective and non-confrontational," the law firm advised. "Needless to say, Mr. Dwight ought to be dealt with severely by the embassy and must himself be dismissed from employment if the domestic staff members are to be dismissed," the firm added.

The Venezuelan chargé d'affairs' murder could jeopardise Kenya's "good" standing with South American nations. Only early this month, President Kibaki was in Brazil during the Rio+ 20 Climate conference where he held meetings with members of the business community who were exploring the possibility of investing in Kenya.

Her death could also cause international condemnation of Kenya since the foreign diplomats' person and premises are inviolable under the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. The Convention also protects foreign diplomats from arrest by host country law enforcement authorities, entry into their premises without authority or inspection of their premises, bags and vehicles.

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