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Power games at Venezuelan embassy preceded ambassador's murder, court told

Thursday November 6 2014

Mr Dwight Sagaray (left)  is charged alongside five Kenyans with murder the murder of Venezuelan ambassador Olga Fonseca. PHOTO | GRAPHICS | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Mr Dwight Sagaray (left) is charged alongside five Kenyans with murdering Venezuelan ambassador Olga Fonseca. PHOTO | GRAPHICS | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

VINCENT AGOYA
By VINCENT AGOYA
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And intricate power struggle at the Venezuelan embassy in Nairobi preceded the entry of a new ambassador, who was murdered in cold blood barely a week after taking office, a court heard on Thursday.

A witness recounted a brawl between a senior diplomat and an employee a day after ambassador Olga Fonseca had reported to her new station.

Ambassador Fonseca was found dead at her residence on July 27, 2012 in Runda, Nairobi.

Mr Oduor Omollo, the embassy’s IT manager, also recounted how a computer server was “crushed”, but he denied knowing whether Ms Fonseca had complained that someone was tampering with her office and computer.

He said that when the ambassador arrived in the country, Mr Dwight Sagaray had been occupying her office. Mr Sagaray moved to a separate room after Ms Fonseca assumed her duties.

“I first saw Olga on a Monday...Dwight came into the office that I sit in and he introduced her to me. I welcomed her to Kenya as she was taken round to meet other officials,” the witness said.

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He said that the day after, Ms Fonseca convened a staff meeting and inquired how long each one of them had served at the embassy.

AN ASSAULT AND A SACKING

The witness said Mr Daniel Mwangi, who was an accountant and translator at the embassy, fell out with Mr Sagaray and assaulted him, leading to his sacking.

Mr Omollo was testifying in a case in which Mr Sagaray is charged alongside five Kenyans with murdering Ms Fonseca.

He said he had heard through the grapevine that Mr Mwangi was posturing to take over his duties of IT management, but he said he did not know whether the employee enjoyed diplomatic status or had a diplomatic ID preserved for the foreigners.

He equally could not confirm whether Mr Mwangi had access to the opening and sealing of diplomatic bags at the embassy.

The witness said Mr Sagaray sacked Mr Mwangi as he “was undermining his (Dwight’s) authority at the time”.

“One of the allegations was that he had assaulted Mr Dwight and another was that he had crushed the embassy’s computer server,” the witness said.

He said he asked Mr Mwangi for a scan disk to try and establish what had happened but “he wondered why I was asking for it.”

The witness said that he could not recall instances when Mr Mwangi would posture himself as the person in charge of the embassy before Ms Fonseca’s arrival.

'OFFICIAL' RELATIONSHIP

Mr Omollo also said he did not know whether locks at the embassy were changed when Ms Fonseca took office.

However, he said that though he was the IT manager, it is Mr Mwangi who kept all computer passwords at the embassy.

“Mwangi was officially employed as a translator... I was hinted to by colleagues that he was to take up my job, of which I had no problem,” he said.

The witness also recounted when he first met Ms Fonseca.

“Dwight was there... she informed us officially that she was now in charge,” Mr Omollo said, adding that he could not remember Mr Dwight saying anything at the meeting.

“The relationship was official and I did not spot anything that was out of the ordinary,” the witness said.

He said the new ambassador requested that staff cooperate with her as she got acquainted herself with the goings-on within the office.

Mr Omollo said he saw Mr Dwight and Ms Fonseca communicate mainly in Spanish, but the tone did not seem unfriendly.

Proceedings resume on November 11.