Army man who guarded Kabuga ‘killed’
Posted Sunday, July 8 2012 at 23:30
- Army marksman Michael Sarunei told his family that his secret job was to guard Rwanda genocide suspect; he disappeared after taking photos
A Kenya Army soldier allegedly assigned to protect wanted Rwandan genocide suspect Felicien Kabuga disappeared — and may have been murdered — after he secretly took pictures of the fugitive, investigations have revealed.
The soldier was part of a shadowy unit set up by people close to the National Security Intelligence Service (NSIS) and the military or who appear to have had access to facilities controlled by the two institutions.
The unit provided security for the runaway genocide suspect, who has a Sh400 million bounty on his head, while he was hiding in Kenya even as the government denied knowing his whereabouts.
The startling facts about Kabuga, said to have been one of the brains behind the Rwanda killings, in which close to 800,000 people were hacked to death, were revealed yesterday in an investigative documentary aired on NTV last night.
The disappearance of Michael Sarunei, an infrantryman who was part of Kabuga’s bodyguard, has raised questions about the government’s handling of the hunt for the fugitive businessman, whom the United States Government has always insisted was being harboured by Kenya.
Contacted on Sunday, Government spokesman Alfred Mutua denied the involvement of the present government in the Kabuga saga. He said that all the allegations that have been made about Mr Kabuga’s refuge in Kenya point to events before President Kibaki took over at the end of 2002.
“This particular government has not been aware of anything to do with the protection of Mr Kabuga. We are working very closely with the Rwanda government to ensure that this man is arrested,” Dr Mutua said.
NTV investigations over the past five months, however, point to Mr Kabuga still being in the country.
Relatives of Sarunei, who joined the Kenya Army infantry in 1996, told of the soldier’s mysterious disappearance early on February 13, 2009, after saying he was protecting Kabuga.
They believe he was killed after he secretly took pictures of the elusive businessman. Three of those photographs were given to NTV. Shown to Rwandan Government officials and people who had worked at Kabuga’s radio station in Rwanda, they confirmed that the elderly man in a blue T-shirt was indeed the wanted suspect.
Sarunei’s disappearance is the latest twist in the Kabuga saga, which previously resulted in the murder of a freelance journalist, Michael Munuhe, who was tortured to death as he prepared to lead FBI agents to Kabuga’s hideout in Nairobi.
A relative of the soldier, who remains anonymous for his own safety, was interviewed by NTV reporter John-Allan Namu in Rift Valley, where he produced the pictures of a man later identified as Kabuga and video images of a white government Land Rover in which Sarunei was driven away by his captors.
Said the source: “Four years ago Michael (Sarunei) began earning a lot of money. I asked him whether soldiers were getting paid better these days. He told me that he was working for a very rich man from Rwanda, who the government had wanted to keep in hiding, and that’s why he was getting paid a lot. Michael told me that the rich man who he and others were protecting was called Kabuga.”
Sarunei had reportedly told his relative that his bosses had ordered him never to reveal anything about the man they were protecting or he would be killed.
But Sarunei never heeded this warning. According to the source, in late 2008, when Kabuga was still in a Nairobi hospital, the soldier secretly photographed him. Unknown to him, the pictures were discovered by a colleague who alerted Kabuga and his protectors in government.
According to the relative, on February 13, 2009, Sarunei was led out of his home one morning into a government vehicle, registration GK 029K, never to be seen again.
NTV showed the pictures to Rwanda’s prosecutor-general Martin Ngoga, who confirmed they were of Kabuga, though 18 years older than widely circulated pictures of him.
NTV also uncovered shocking new details about the mysterious death of Michael Munuhe, an FBI informer, whose body was found in the Gitu area of Karen in Nairobi on January 13, 2003.