Kenya under pressure from US
By KEVIN J. KELLEY
NEW YORK, Wednesday
Kenya is coming under increased pressure from the United States to arrest Rwanda genocide suspects said to be living in the country. The US believes top genocide suspects could be living in Kenya under the protection of powerful people.
For example, Mr Felicien Kabuga, a fugitive named as a key organiser of the Rwanda genocide is likely to be living in Kenya, perhaps under the protection of "influential people", a senior United States official said on Tuesday.
"The Kenyan government must act now to locate the accused war criminal and bring him to justice," added Pierre-Richard Prosper, the US ambassador-at-large for war crimes issues.
"While Kenyan officials have pledged to cooperate in the hunt for Felicien Kabuga, obviously we need results," Ambassador Prosper declared in an interview with allafrica.com, a US-based Internet news service.
"We felt that enough is enough. Too much time has passed that these individuals have been at large. And we really need to put whatever influence the United States has behind this effort to bring them into custody."
"All information points to Kenya as the country where Mr Kabuga is
hiding," Ambassador Prosper said. Specifically, the Rwandan fugitive is
thought to have spent time in Nairobi, Mombasa and Eldoret.
"We do believe that he is receiving some sort of protection, either from a
civilian population or influential people," Ambassador Prosper said. "We
have strong suspicions as to who these people may be. We're not prepared
to go public with it just yet, but we are prepared to make approaches to
try to resolve this issue because we believe that Mr Kabuga needs to be
brought into custody and that the government of Kenya does have an
The International Crisis Group, a Brussels-based NGO, reported last year
that international investigators had traced Mr Kabuga in 1997 to houses
owned by a powerful politician, who is also the nephew of a top Kanu
official. The NGO said that in a search of one of the houses, the investigators found a handwritten note suggesting that a Kenyan police
officer had tipped off Mr Kabuga and urged him to flee.
Ambassador Prosper travelled to Nairobi in June to announce a $5 million
reward for information leading to the arrest of Mr Kabuga, who is wanted
for genocide and crimes against humanity. About 100 tips a week have been received since the reward was posted, Ambassador Prosper said last month.
"We feel we are getting closer" to arresting Mr Kabuga, the ambassador
told allafrica.com. "Our information is crystallising."
The pan-Africa manhunt for genocide suspects scored a recent success with the arrest of Augustin Bizimungu, chief of staff of the Rwandan Armed
Forces at the time of the 1994 bloodbath. Mr Bizimungu, who was arrested
in Angola, has pleaded not guilty to the charges brought against him by
the UN's International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, which is based in
During a visit last month to the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ambassador Prosper named eight fugitives, including Mr Bizimungu, who were being included in the $5 million rewards programme.
Mr Kabuga's links with Nairobi date back to as early as 1995, three years
after the genocide, when his daughter wedded the son of the late Rwandan
President Juvenal Habyarimana in the city.
In 1996, a local weekly publication traced Mr Kabuga to an executive
estate in Nairobi where he was heavily guarded by a local security firm.
In the residence were posh cars with Belgian and Congolese registration
Mr Kabuga is said to be a close friend and business associate of a senior
Cabinet minister and it is alleged that he was among a group of wealthy
Rwandan fugitives who during the 1997 General Election gave substantial
amounts of money for the Kanu campaign.
Until May this year, Mr Kabuga reportedly lived like an ordinary Kenyan
and ran his extensive businesses at Athi River, Kajiado District, Mombasa
and Eldoret from a house near the Gigiri Police Station.