Kenya denies hiding Rwanda genocide suspect


Kenya said yesterday that threats to refer it to the UN Security Council for harbouring a leading Rwandan genocide suspect would not work because it did not know where he was, despite detaining him briefly in 1994.

The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), Hassan Jallow, told the Security Council on Dec. 3 that his office would seriously consider reporting Kenya for non-cooperation if it did not hand over Felicien Kabuga.

A Hutu businessman, Kabuga is accused of funding the militias that butchered some 800 000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus over a span of 100 days in 1994. He is Rwanda’s most-wanted man and the United States has put a $5 million bounty on his head.

The ICTR says Kenya has failed to act against Kabuga despite evidence of his entry into the country, application for residency, visa approval and the opening of a bank account.

But Kenyan government spokesman Alfred Mutua said yesterday that it was unfair to refer Nairobi to the Council when it had already arrested and handed over seven other genocide suspects.
“It is preposterous to ask for sanctions on an issue where Kenya has cooperated more than any other country,” Mutua said, adding that Kenyan police had unknowingly detained Kabuga in a crackdown on illegal migrants just a month after the genocide.
“Since he was released by Kenyan police on 19th May 1994, Kabuga vanished. He could be in Kenya or anywhere else,” Mutua told a news conference in Nairobi.

Last month, the US ambassador-at-large for war crimes issues called on Kenya to hand over Kabuga and said the fact that it had not was part and parcel of the culture of impunity prevalent in east Africa’s biggest economy.

Experts say Kabuga had extensive business dealings with powerful individuals in the government of former President Daniel arap Moi, and security sources believe he has been paying for protection in Kenya.