NAIROBI - It is now official: the most wanted Rwandan Genocide Fugitive, Félicien Kabuga owns some assets in Kenya and, the Kenyan government has at last decided to freeze them.
Kabuga owns a posh and luxurius block of flats, Spanish Villa, in Nairobi’s upmarket Kilimani area located along Nairobi’s Lenana Road and registered in his names and his wife’s, Josephine Mukazitoni which generates Ksh290,000 (Approx. Frw 2,572,207) in three months.
Media reports indicate that the amount was regulary wired to Banque de Poste, a Belgian bank to an account in the names of Kabuga’s wife Mukazitoni.
The court made the ruling after the Kenyan government identified several bank accounts and property owned by Kabuga.
The Kenyan High Court’s orders were issued after prosecutor Keriako Tobiko told it that proceeds from the estate helped the fugitive to evade capture. He said that the move is one of the policies put forward to make it hard for the renegade businessman to operate.
The judge also ordered that neither Kabuga nor his wife could sell or do anything with the apartment block until Kabuga’s case at the tribunal is over. The case has not started since he has not been arrested.
Rwandan Ambassador to Kenya Bill Kayonga confirmed the development but said that the High Court was yet to deliver its ruling to the Embassy.
“This is part of the genuine operations that have been going on and I assume even some of the other properties including the companies that he (Kabuga) had registered will also be frozen,” said Kayonga.
On Tuesday, the Kenyan Prosecution made an application to the high court in a detailed report of what Kabuga and his wife own and requested to freeze his assets.
High Court Judge Justice Muga Apondi ordered that the rent from the estate be deposited with the registrar at the Nairobi court. The report also states that Kabuga and his wife owned the Sh50 million (approx. Frw 441,723,596) villas in Kenya.
Several detectives from Kenya and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) established the ownership of the villas and according to their report, there was an agreement on January 26 appointing Kenya Trust Company Limited as managing agents of the property and to collect rent.
Kenya Trust Company Limited’s address remains unknown and the Kenyan prosecution has alleged the company would collect the rent and deposit the money in their account at the same bank. Documents showed that every quarter, the firm would wire the money in French currency to Belgium.
Media reports also indicate that Kabuga and his wife Mukazitoni remain owners, shareholders and directors in several companies registered in Kenya, and that the proceeds were transferred from a local bank to an account in Belgium by the couple’s daughter.
The reports also allege that Kabuga had used his money to substantially interfere with prosecution witnesses at the ICTR. Detectives’ reports indicate that Kabuga has a joint account with his wife at the Kenya Commercial Bank. The couple is alleged to be using the huge sums of money in avoiding capture and escape justice.
Kabuga and his wife are believed to have vast interests in Kenya, including transport companies, real estate, hotels and farming. The presiding judge directed the High Court’s deputy registrar to keep the file in safe custody.
The Kenyan judiciary expressed fear of losing the court documents on Kabuga’s case and sought to have the file placed in a strong room because of the nature of the case.
The court also ordered extensive investigations and adjourned the case to July 29 to establish the progress made and whether anyone shall have responded to the suit by then.
The court also ordered the Director of Public Prosecution Tobiko to inform the Kabuga family of the case in court by advertising it in two newspapers, one regional and the other international.
The development comes after recent comments by the spokesman of the ICTR Ronald Amoussouga that the ICTR legacy will be at stake if Kabuga is not arrested before the end of the tribunal’s mandate.
Kabuga has also been listed among the top ten most wanted fugitives and the United States has put a US$5 million bounty on his head.
Kabuga who is believed to be using Kenya as one of his hideouts, has been on the run since 1994; he is one of the ICTR’s big fish who are still at large and the most high-profile suspect.
Media reports quote ICTR classified UN dossier of Kabuga indicating that he was last sighted in Kenya on June 28, 2006 at the Lavington residence of a former Kenya Cabinet minister.
But prior to the Lavington sighting, Kabuga had reportedly been seen in Eldoret in the company of a former permanent secretary and several times at a little hotel on the outskirts of Nairobi.
He is believed to frequent Europe and African countries such as Madagascar, Gabon and Kenya. He is accused of being a key financier and supplying machetes to Interahamwe to kill Tutsis.
Kabuga, 73, was in 1994 thrown out of Switzerland and went to the Democratic Republic of Congo before seeking refuge in Kenya, where he has escaped several attempts to arrest him.
Kabuga has also changed his names several times to Faracean Kabuga, Idriss Sudi, Abachev Straton, Anathase Munyaruga, or Oliver Rukundakuvuga.