KIGALI - Kigali City mogul Barry Ndengeyingoma alias Ndengeye was yesterday interrogated for about three hours at the office of the Prosecutor General in Kimihurura.
Ndengeye, who was accompanied by his lawyers Jean Bosco Kazungu and Mbaga Tuzinde Mbonyimbuga, was interrogated by prosecutor Bonavanture Ruberwa from the office of the Prosecutor General (PG).
The ‘Hummer tycoon’ was arrested on Thursday on charges of money laundering, counterfeiting and forging documents, for which he was sentenced to three years in prison by a Belgian court.
The arrest of the man who owns a fleet of expensive vehicles in town followed a red notice from Belgian Interpol, according to CID director Chief Inspector Costa Habyara.
However, The New Times could not speak to Ndengeye after yesterday’s interrogation session. He was immediately whisked away by a waiting white double cabin vehicle reg. no. RAA 463 at around 1a.m. There were five other occupants in the vehicle, two of them police personnel including an Assistant Inspector woman.
Ndengeye was driven back to Kicukiro Police Station where he has been in custody since his arrest on Thursday. His fiancée Samia also waited outside the PG offices in company of a female friend as the interrogation went on, and left moments after the vehicle that took her man had left.
“I cannot make any comment but you can contact the Prosecution’s Spokesman (Bosco Mutangana) for details,” prosecutor Ruberwa said after the interrogation.
Ndengeye, who was clad in a grey suit yesterday, attracted massive attention when he suddenly appeared on Kigali City streets early this year driving expensive cars including a Hummer and Limousine.
He told The New Times from police custody on Friday that the Belgian case was unfounded and a result of malicious agenda aimed at tarnishing his image.
And in a letter to this newspaper yesterday, Ndengeye blamed his current woes on the ‘general attitude whites have against Africans’, claiming that his wealth had attracted forged cases about him.
He claims that his humble lifestyle and expensive wardrobe have for long attracted suspicion from authorities. He also alleged that at one time Belgian police ransacked his house and when they found him with lots of expensive clothes, neckties and shoes, they went to shops to inquire if he had not stolen them.
Ndengeye, who said that he went to Europe in 1996 amidst rumours against his relatives, didn’t however explain actual charges for which he has been convicted in a Belgian court.
He said that the current problems he is facing might derail the projects he had planned in Rubavu, Western Province and Muhazi, Eastern Province, in 2008.
Meanwhile, one of his lawyers Mbonyimbuga confirmed their client was been sentenced by a Belgian court to three years in prison.
“As a result of the verdict, Belgium wants Rwanda to hand him over to them to serve the sentence. This is however not possible because Article 25 of our Constitution says that no Rwandan shall be extradited (to another country to stand trial),” Mbonyimbuga said. He said that during the interrogation session, Ndengeye gave a copy of his correspondences with a Belgian police officer in which Ndengeye indicated that he would be travelling to Belgium in January to sort out the court issue.
Samia, a Belgian whose parents originate from Morrocco, told this reporter yesterday that Ndengeye had communicated his plan to travel to Belgian in January, 2008, after Brussels informed him about the court ruling. She had earlier said the judgement was passed around June or July this year, adding that the trial was conducted in Ndengeye’s absence.
“For him it was important to come and first invest in Rwanda; he wanted to first put in place something for his children and then go back to Belgium to settle the matter. There are a lot of suspicions in Belgium,” Samia said without elaborating.
She added: “He sent an e-mail (to Belgian authorities) around late November stating that he would be going there next month (January), but unfortunately few weeks after, they communicated the matter to officials here.”
Samia, who avoided using the term ‘arrest’ in reference to her fiancé’s current problems, insisted that Ndengeye was just explaining certain issues related to the Belgian case.
Prosecution Spokesman Bosco Mutangana yesterday declined to discuss the specificities of the case, but said that as a general practice, the High Court has the mandate to rule on the substance of such cases.
“I haven’t received details about the interrogation but he shall soon be produced before the High Court of the Republic which will determine the substance of the case. However, a Higher Instance Court or a district court can also try the case on detention,” he indicated.
He said the High Court will look into the constitutional implications of the case. “They will examine what the law provides for in case when one is sentenced by foreign jurisdictions.”
Mutangana also said that apart from the Interpol red notice, Belgium also issued an international arrest warrant against the businessman.
Ndengeye owns the Rubavu-based Palm Beach Hotel and B-Club, a new discotheque located near Kobil Petrol Station in Kibagabaga, a Kigali upscale neighborhood.
Meanwhile, Samia said yesterday that his fiancé imported a Range Rover for his company’s manager, which is still at Rwanda Revenue Authority’s bonded warehouse, Magerwa, in Gikondo. She had on Friday said that the vehicle was a limousine. She identified the company as Africa Biz.