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When genocide fugitive Kabuga ran businesses in Kenya

Monday May 18 2020
kabpic

Rwandese Felicien Kabuga. He is accused of financing the 1994 Rwanda genocide. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By NYAMBEGA GISESA

For several years, the government was cagey about businesses associated with Felicien Kabuga, the suspect who was arguably Rwanda’s richest man at the time of the genocide.

At some point, former Attorney-General Amos Wako and Director of Public Prosecutions Keriako Tobiko were taken to task by a Kenyan court to explain why it was unable to trace whoever was running Mr Kabuga’s business empire.

In its response to court, the Daniel arap Moi administration claimed that Kenya Trust Company (KTC) Ltd, which was collecting hundreds of thousands of shillings every month from apartments owned by Mr Kabuga and his wife, had no known address.

Yet KTC, also known as Tyson’s Ltd, an evaluation and real estate management company, was a well-known firm with a permanent physical address in Nairobi. This explanation was among attempts made to help Mr Kabuga escape justice.

Mr Kabuga was able to register a business in Kenya and co-owned House No. 6 on LR No. 1/1154, also known as Spanish Villas, on Lenana Road in Nairobi with his wife, Josephine Mukazitoni.

Mukazitoni died at the age of 75 in 2017 in Belgium, where she was living. Until his arrest on Saturday in France, there were claims that Mr Kabuga was hiding in several countries, with Kenya among one of the most mentioned hideouts.

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“The dead cannot cry out for justice. It is a duty of the living to do so for them,” the United Nations International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (IRMCT) announced in a statement upon his arrest.

ACCOUNTS FROZEN

Other than the apartments, the Kabugas ran a matatu business and some companies, which were later subject of court cases.

Following international pressure, Mr Wako in 2008 went to court seeking orders barring the Kabugas from Spanish Villas until the conclusion of a case at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), where Mr Kabuga was on trial.

Mr Kabuga acquired the property in 1995, and three years later, KTC Ltd was contracted by the couple’s daughter Bernadette Uwamariya to manage it.

Although the physical address of KTC Ltd is not known, the company had been collecting rent and depositing it in an account that was owned by Mr Kabuga at the Commercial Bank of Africa.

The account was closed in 2005 and the Sh3.4 million in it wired to an account Mr Kabuga co-owned with Ms Mukazitoni in Belgium.

Since then, the court was told, KTC wired Sh290,000 in French Francs every three months to Banque De La Poste in Belgium.

In October 2015, the Court of Appeal affirmed the freezing of assets owned by the Kabugas.

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