27 November 2012

Rwanda: How German Police 'Missed' Genocide Financer Felicien Kabuga

In all likelihood, Felicien Kabuga, wanted by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, was in Frankfurt (Germany) in 2007.

It was on September 7, 2007, near Frankfurt, Germany. Police knock on the door of a house. Inside, was a man wanted by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda: Augustin Ngirabatware, Minister of Planning during the genocide.

On noticing the police, who had come to arrest him, Ngirabatware displayed a strange reaction: he draws a USB from his pocket, throws it onto the ground and destroys it using his heels. Overpowered by the police, he is placed in detention. What was he trying to hide? Doubtful, investigators take the destroyed USB to a laboratory for analysis. But Ngirabatware is dead-silent: it will take several weeks to talk.

However, technicians are able to extract several documents, including at least one which seemed to be interesting: a hospital bill, amounting to about 5,000 Euros, under the names of a Tanzanian national. The document mentions treatment for "chronic respiratory failure."

This is the photo which was found in the passport obtained from Tanzanian authorities by German investigators (Photo: Jeune Afrique)

Intrigued, the German police seek and find the trace of the passport used by the patient to enter Germany territory and request for the holder's file from Tanzanian authorities. Surprise: the photo they receive, and which Jeune Afrique has provided (see side photo), is clearly that of Ngirabatware's father-in-law, Félicien Kabuga (77 years), nicknamed the "financier" of genocide. He was president of the infamous Radio Television Libre des Mille Collines (RTLM) and is believed to have imported tens of thousands of machetes for the genocidal militias. Incidentally, this photo contradicts the rumors that were circulating at the time, saying he had undergone plastic surgery to change his face.

False names

When investigators return to Ngirabatware's home, Felicien Kabuga may have obviously left the country long ago. But a survey of the neighborhood allows them to learn that he has stayed in this house. Witnesses saw him move with an English cane (walking stick). There is some evidence he was even in the premises at the time of the arrest!

According to a source close to the investigation, Ngirabatware had time to speak out multiple phrases "in a language unknown to police" before his arrest. Was it Kinyarwanda? Was it for his father-in-law? One thing is certain: September 7, 2007, the alleged genocidal most wanted in the world came close to an arrest. He came close a few hours. Maybe even a few meters.

And since then? The prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), Hassan Jallow, stated regularly: he could be in Kenya. This rich man manages more business there under a false name. Despite the arrest of Ngirabatware, some family members remain high profile; Kabuga's other son-in-law, Fabien Singaye, is Special Advisor to the President of the Central African Republic, François Bozizé. The Kenyan government continues to deny that Kabuga is present on its soil. But a documentary - indeed controversial - by the private channel NTV Kenya released in July tends to prove otherwise.

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