22.05.08 - ICTR/KABUGA - ICTR CAREFULLY VERIFYING HIGH-PROFILED KABUGA'S REMARKS OVER HIS SURRENDER

Arusha, 22 May 2008(FH)-The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) is carefully verifying the recent press report of Rwandan genocide fugitive, Felicen Kabuga, that he preferred his surrender to the Rwandan government than the UN Court, to face charges of 1994 genocide.
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In an interview purported to be conducted in Norway by Oslo-based online media African Press International (API), dated 12 May, Kabuga claimed that he was ready to negotiate a supervised surrender on agreeable terms.

He was quoted to have said that he was willing to face justice in his home country and not Arusha-based ICTR, apparently not aware of ICTR's statute (Article 8) which clearly spells out primacy over national courts.

"...I know I will be useful to the government if they accept to negotiate with me. There are things that I will reveal to them. Things that will help achieve their goals in punishing the real killers of our people," he claimed in the interview.

Impeccable UN tribunal sources told Hirondelle Agency that the report was being thoroughly studied, and was not also ruling out as a "hoax interview", including the location of the interview. "We are looking at all sides of the interview," the source added.

However, the UN tribunal maintains that Kabuga was hiding in Kenya. "Our tracking team reports continuously points that Kabuga is hiding in Kenya,'' stated the source.

The Rwandan Attorney General, Martin Ngoga, told Hirondelle that he has not received any such Kabuga's communication. "I am not aware of anything like this," he said in Arusha on Wednesday.

The Spokesman of the ICTR, Roland Amoussouga, said he does not wish to comment on the issue for the timebeing.

In the API interview, Kabuga, 73, exposes his severe diabetic complications; confirmed his many years stay in Kenya; his travel using different names; and his corrupt deals with Kenyan security officers.

Kabuga has changed his names several times to Faracean Kabuga, Idriss Sudi, Abachev Straton, Anathase Munyaruga, or Oliver Rukundakuvuga to facilitate his trips.

The high-profiled fugitive also expressed his anguish at the recent Kenyan court's decision to freeze his asset; a posh and luxurius block of flats, Spanish Villa, in Nairobi's upmarket Kilimani area located along Nairobi's Lenana Road and registered in his names and his wife's, Josephine Mukazitoni.

Media reports indicate that the rent was regularly wired to Banque de Poste, a Belgian bank to an account in the name of Kabuga's wife Mukazitoni.

The court also ordered that neither Kabuga nor his wife could sell or do anything with the apartment block until Kabuga's case at the tribunal is over. The case has not started since he has not been arrested.

The court made the ruling after the Kenyan government identified several bank accounts and property owned by Kabuga and the money accumulated was used to evade his capture, including interfering with ICTR prosecution witnesses. Kabuga is also said to own real estates, transport companies, hotels and allegedly engages in large-scale commercial farming in Kenya.

The court ordered extensive investigations and adjourned the case to July 29 to establish the progress made and whether anyone shall have responded to the suit by then.

The court also ordered the Director of Public Prosecution to inform the Kabuga family of the case in court by advertising it in two newspapers, one regional and the other international.

Kabuga has also been listed among the top ten most wanted fugitives and the United States has put a US$5 million bounty on his head.

He is believed to frequent Europe and African countries such as Madagascar, Gabon and Kenya. He is accused of being a key financier and supplying machetes to Interahamwe to kill ethnic Tutsis.

Kabuga was in 1994 thrown out of Switzerland and went to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) before seeking refuge in Kenya, where he has escaped several attempts to arrest him, largely because of his secret connections with top government and security officials.

SC/GF

© Hirondelle News Agency