NAIROBI - Kenyan journalists have lashed out at their Government and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), for complacency in arresting key Genocide fugitive, Felicien Kabuga.
Kabuga, who has been reported by the ICTR to be living in Kenya for almost a decade, has been on the run since 1994 and is one of the most high profile suspects, the ICTR’s big fish who still remain at large.
Speaking on the sidelines of a press conference held yesterday at Norfolk hotel, Nairobi, journalists charged at the ICTR and the Kenyan government for not coming out clear on the whereabouts of a man believed to have funded the 1994 Genocide.
“The Government (of Kenya) is not at all committed to arresting Kabuga. There is every belief that he is around here because the same Government has taken him to court for failure to pay taxes,” Cyrus Ombati, a reporter with The Standard, a Kenyan daily said.
Kabuga and his wife are believed to have vast commercial interests in Kenya, including transport companies, real estates, hotels and farms.
“Junior police officers will confidentially tell you that he is around and that he keeps moving from place to place. They also caution us on being careful with the Kabuga stories we report,” Ombati says.
Ombati adds that Kabuga’s search is frustrated by some government officials who while in Parliament, keep diverting topics concerning his arrest.
For Isaaya Njoroge a reporter with the Nairobi Star, Kabuga’s arrest can only be realized through concerted efforts from the regional countries.
David Ochani, a senior reporter with The Standard, described the search for Kabuga as a dilemma that has left the public in suspense of who to believe between the Kenyan Government and ICTR.
“The Government keeps staging raids here and there and arresting people with resemblance to Kabuga just to show that investigations have intensified and there is a lot of work on the ground. There is simply too much secrecy in what is happening and this is all not yielding any fruits in Kabuga’s arrest,” Ochani said.
Months ago, Dr Charles Nyandwi a lecturer of mathematics at the University of Nairobi, was arrested in Ngong, Kenya and released after it was realised that it was mistaken identity.
Kenyan newspapers reported early this week that Kabuga had escaped yet another police dragnet in Nairobi’s Runda estate in which police seized several clothes they said were his.
Ochani maintains that the raids are stage-managed and that they coincide with high profile meeting such as the ICTR press conference in Nairobi and the ongoing UN Security Council meeting in New York.
Another senior journalist who spoke on condition of anonymity citing sensitivity of the matter wondered why it was taking ten years for Kenya to arrest Kabuga given its strong intelligence system.
“If they don’t have him, they should come out and say so. This issue is putting Kenya on the spot,” the source said.
There has been fear among a section of the Kenyan public over allegations that Kabuga operates a hit squad that targets people who trail his movements.
In 2002, a Kenyan journalist William Munuhe was mysteriously murdered for allegedly availing information to an international security organization (FBI) on the whereabouts of Kabuga.
Kabuga remains one of the key fugitives indicted by the UN court still remaining at large fourteen years after it was established by the UN Security Council.
The court which was established to try masterminds of the 1994 Genocide against Tutsis, has until the end of next year to have completed all cases on first instance while appeals are supposed to have been completed by 2010.
Upon closure, the unfinished trials are according to the statute establishing the court, to be transferred to national jurisdiction.
So far, 35 cases have been completed while others are still going on. There are other suspects still under the UN Detention Centre of the Arusha based court whose trials have not yet started.