African Press International (API)

"Daily Online News Channel".

Will Kabuga fight for his wealth?

Posted by African Press International on May 11, 2008

Publisher: Korir, africanpress@getmail.no. nation.ke

Story by SAM KIPLAGAT

The High Court last Tuesday issued orders to freeze some property in Nairobi belonging to Rwandan fugitive Felicien Kabuga and his wife Josephine Mukazitoni. This effectively sent out the message to them to come out and defend their wealth if not their innocence.

But whether or not the couple will pick up the gauntlet and fight for their property is yet to be seen.

The ruling freezes what is believed to be just a portion of the vast wealth owned by one of the worlds most wanted men. Mr Kabuga has been on the run since 1997 when he was indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda on charges of conspiracy to commit genocide, incitement, complicity in genocide and crimes against humanity following the 1994 Rwanda genocide where nearly a million Rwandans were killed.

The High Court ruling was made following a successful application by Attorney-General Amos Wako through Director of Public Prosecutions Keriako Tobiko. The AG wanted access to rent collected from the property identified as Spanish Villas in Kilimani to be denied to Mr Kabuga and his wife. The property is said to generate approximately Sh100,000 every month in rent.

Spanish Villas

According to the DPP, the Kenya Police and investigators from the ICTR had found that Mr Kabuga owned a number of properties in Kenya, and he and his wife Josephine have been using monies generated from the properties to evade arrest and escape justice by, among other ways, intimidating witnesses who have already testified and those set to testify before the ICTR, based in Arusha, Tanzania.

Mr Tobiko said the money is collected by a company known as Kenya Trust Company Limited it is named as the third respondent in the case.

Mr Kabuga acquired the property in 1995 and three years later, KTC Ltd was contracted by the couples daughter Bernadette Uwamariya to manage it.

Although the physical address of KTC Ltd is not known, the company had been collecting rent and depositing it in an account that was owned by Mr Kabuga at the Commercial Bank of Africa. The account was then closed in 2005 and the Sh3.4 million in it wired to an account Mr Kabuga co-owned with Ms Mukazitoni in Belgium. Since then, KTC has been wiring Sh290,000 in French Francs every three months to Banque De La Poste in Belgium.

Evade arrest

Mr Tobiko pointed out that Kenya has the legal and moral obligation to assist in the prosecution of perpetrators of international crimes of any nature wherever committed.

He said that the matter was urgent since the ICTR was expected to wind up it hearings by the end of this year. To this end, the freezing of the property would be reported to the ICTR president and lead prosecutor immediately.

While certifying the case as urgent, the judge said he was aware that Mr Kabuga is wanted for allegations of genocide and related crimes in Rwanda.

He said in his ruling, Whereas Mr Kabuga is presumed to be innocent unless proved otherwise, the ball is in his court to come forward so that he may be subjected to the due process of the law. During the same, he may defend himself given the serious allegations against him.

Mr Kabuga has been changing names and appearance to evade arrest. He is reported to have used such names as Idriss Sudi, Abachref Straton, Anathase Munyarunga and Oliver Kabuga.

The fugitive, aged 73, was born in Muniga Secteur, Mukarange Commune in Buyumba in Rwanda. Before the genocide in 1994, Mr Kabuga was the President of the National Defence Fund. Under President Juvenal Habyarimanas rule, Mr Kabuga had immense political clout and was a powerful financier. Two of his daughters married President Habyarimanas sons.

Mr Tobiko noted that there have been numerous calls especially to governments of Kenya, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo to assist the ICTR in its bid to track down suspected perpetrators of the Rwanda genocide. He said the country could face UN sanctions if it does not comply. The US Government has placed a Sh300 million bounty on Mr Kabugas head.

The case will be mentioned again on July 29 when the High Court will require an update on the matter.

——–

API

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