ICTR pursuit of Kabuga hindered in Kenya
The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) has prepared a damning report detailing the activities in Kenya of the Rwandan Genocide’s most wanted fugitive, Felicien Kabuga. It documents areas in Nairobi where Kabuga used to live and names his known associates.
Sources in Nairobi say the report, soon to be released, will be handed over to Kenyan authorities next month. ICTR prosecutor Justice Hassan Jallow was in Nairobi last week and met with Attorney-General Amos Wako soon after the Commonwealth Law Association conference at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre.
Details of the meeting between Justice Jallow and Mr. Wako were not readily available. Sources told the Insight they involved appeals to Nairobi to help the ICTR track and apprehend Kabuga.
Next month, Jallow will meet top Kenyan officials in what some in Nairobi describe as his last frantic efforts to convince them to help capture Kabuga so that he may be brought before the ICTR.
The tribunal, which has been trying suspects linked to the 1994 Rwanda Genocide in Arusha, Tanzania, is under pressure to complete its work by December 2008 and all appeals by December 2010.
The hunt for Kabuga, the main financier and mastermind of the 1994 Genocide which claimed the lives of over a million Rwandans, has reportedly been bogged down by lack of coordination and assistance from Kenya’s government.
The ICTR has been tracking Kabuga for twelve years and believes he is a regular visitor to Kenya. But Nairobi denies claims that Kabuga lives in Kenya.
“Though Nairobi claims that Kabuga left the country long ago, Kenya does not say where he went after Nairobi,” said a source privy to investigations.
Sources in Nairobi told the Insight on Tuesday that ICTR investigators are not satisfied with Nairobi’s explanation that the fugitive left the country to another unknown destination.
“ICTR wants know where Kabuga went and which travelling documents he was carrying,” added the source.
Kabuga, born in 1935 in Muniga, Byumba prefecture, is wealthy businessman accused of bankrolling and participating in the Rwandan genocide. A multimillionaire, he was closely connected to Juvénal Habyarimana’s MRND party.
After the fall of Habyarimana’s regime in 1994, Kabuga fled the country and attempted to enter Switzerland but was turned away. He thereafter presumably went to Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and later moved to Nairobi.
About three months ago, ICTR officers questioned a Kenyan heart specialist, Dr Gerald Yonga, whom they suspected of treating Mr Kabuga in his clinic in Nairobi between 2001 and 2003.
The officers claimed Kabuga or his associates had visited the cardiologist for treatment. The officers said they have been monitoring Dr Yonga’s communication, which indicated that he was in touch with either Kabuga or his contacts in Rwanda.
Though the cardiologist confirmed having treated foreigners, he flatly denied that the fugitive Kabuga was one of his patients.
In January, Mombasa politician Omar Masumbuko was detained for four hours for allegedly harbouring Mr Kabuga. He denied the claims and was later released.
Kenyan police have in the past published Kabuga’s picture and story in a bid to enlist the support of the public in capturing him. Police called Kabuga ‘a dangerous fugitive’ and appealed to any person with information about him to report immediately to state authorities.
Last year the ICTR called on Kenya to freeze the assets of all bank accounts and companies linked to him. A reward of US$5 million was issued in August 2000 to be given to anyone with information leading to his arrest.
Police also published his known aliases: Faracean Kabuga, Idriss Sudi, Abachev Straton, Munyarunga Anathase and Oliver Rukundakuvuga.
According to a classified UN dossier, Kabuga was last sighted in Kenya on June 28, 2006 at the Lavington residence of a former Cabinet minister in the Moi administration.
Prior to the Lavington sighting Kabuga had been seen in Eldoret in January in the company of a former permanent secretary and several times at a hotel on the outskirts of Nairobi.
Kabuga is among a group of eighteen people indicted for Genocide crimes that are still at large, and seen as the biggest fish among them.
With ten years of trials behind it and the end of the court’s mandate looming, Kabuga’s evasion of capture hangs heavily over the tribunal and challenges its effectiveness in prosecuting the primary organizers of the Rwandan genocide.