The heat is on, and it is only a matter if time before Rwanda’s most wanted fugitive is smoked out of his lair. Félicien Kabuga, the man known as the “Financer of the Genocide”, has eluded capture for the last 14 years, courtesy of his large portfolio of business interests that are believed to stretch across the globe; especially in Kenya and the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius.
I might sound optimistic, but there are tell-tale signs that have been circulating in a Kenyan courtroom, US State department, and some sections of the media since the beginning of the month. The first bombshell, if one could call it that, was a decision by the Kenyan High Court to freeze some of the fugitive’s assets.
A week later, the US State Department decided to reinvigorate the multi-million dollar bounty on the heads of 13 Genocide fugitives. Kabuga tops the list. Why is the Kenyan government acting against Kabuga now?
The answer might lie in a statement made by Kenya’s Director of Public Prosecutions, Keriako Tobiko, who said that the country could face UN sanctions if it does not comply.
As has been the practice in the past, ICTR top officials will address Security Council mid this year and present their periodical reports. The Kenya-Kabuga saga will definitely be on the Agenda.
Kenya’s small gesture seems to have appeased a little bit US Ambassador-at-large for War Crimes, Ambassador Clint Williamson.
“This is a welcome development, but it’s our strong hope that this represents only a single step toward still more aggressive action from all governments in the region to capture these men”, he said when announcing the re-launch of the Rewards for Justice Programme.
Keriako Tobiko said the matter was urgent since the ICTR was expected to wind up it hearings by the end of this year.”
“Kenya has the legal and moral obligation to assist in the prosecution of international crimes of any nature wherever committed,” he said.
Now some editors of an online publication, African Press International, are claiming that they have access to Kabuga and they bear a message from the fugitive. The not-so-intelligent waving of the olive branch might fool a few, unless they looked critically at the pros and cons.
Has Kabuga and his handlers suddenly changed into choirboys and they now let inquisitive and snoops – or scribes approach them without fear of being sold out in favour of the $5 million bounty? The last person who tried that joke never lived to tell the tale.
In January 2003, the American embassy in Nairobi was approached by a journalist/businessman. 27-year-old William Mwaura Munuhe claimed that he had information about Mr Kabuga’s whereabouts.
Munuhe said that he would lure the fugitive to his home in Karen, an upper class neighbourhood in Nairobi. The FBI was called on board and they lay in wait for Kabuga. They did not see any one resembling the wanted man, but found the body of Munuhe with a bullet in his head.
Munuhe was said to be a fixer to one former powerful Kenyan politician, Zakayo Cheruiyot, a former chief of the civil service and one of Mr Moi’s closest advisers The Americans accused him of harbouring Mr Kabuga.
He denied it and even accepted to have a lie detector test, he failed. So someone comes out of the blue, claims to have access to Kabuga in Norway. What guarantees would Kabuga give Kipter Korir that he would not be treated like his compatriot and fellow scribe Munuhe when he agreed to meet?
I can even go ahead and bet my last franc that Korir would not forfeit $5 million for the sake of getting a scoop, no Sir!