Probe over Israeli mercenaries claims

February 23, 2011 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya Feb 23 – Police Commissioner Mathew Iteere has assured the public that the life of Prime Minister Raila Odinga is not in any danger, following claims that there were Israeli mercenaries in the country to target his ODM party members.

Mr Iteere told a news conference on Wednesday evening that initial investigations showed that no Israeli was booked at the hotel where the PM stayed at the weekend in Mombasa.

He said records indicated that the only Israeli who has stayed at the Whitesands  Beach Hotel – since the start of the year – works for the World Food Programme and was booked there between February 7th and 9th.

“The Prime Minister has been assigned adequate security and any person who becomes cognisant of a security threat to the Right Honourable Prime Minister should make a report to his security detail for immediate action.  We have directed the officer in charge of the Prime Minister’s security detail to arrest any suspicious characters said to be stalking the Prime Minister and hand them over to the nearest police station.”

Mr Iteere who said the PM enjoyed sufficient security has however warned Orange Democratic Movement lawmaker Millie Odhiambo that she risked facing action from the police over claims she made that her security had been threatened.

He said police findings indicated that there were inconsistencies in the claims she lodged about break-ins at her city and rural homes.

Earlier on Wednesday, Assistant Security Minister Orwa Ojode said police were investigating the mercenaries’ claims.

Mr Ojode told journalists that the government was “very concerned about the allegations because they border on national security and threaten peace."

"Anything that borders on the national security of the country is taken very seriously. This is a matter we are equally concerned about, but I can tell you that an investigation has been launched by the police," Mr Ojode said.

He said although no one had formally reported the matter to security agencies in the country, intelligence reports had hinted at concerns raised by several politicians, forcing the police to open an investigation.

Among those who have come up openly to talk about the alleged mercenaries include Prime Minister Raila Odinga who told journalists on Tuesday that he had been told of "some Israeli mercenaries whose mission in town is not normal."

"I have also heard of Israeli mercenaries whose intentions here are not normal. I heard that they were somewhere in Mombasa but I have not established the truth," the Premier said when he addressed a media conference at his office on Tuesday afternoon.

Mr Odinga said he was due to meet the Israeli Ambassador to discuss the matter but did not provide details on when the meeting would be held.

"I will also raise the matter with government departments that are concerned with such characters," he said.

"It is a matter that is worrying particularly to members of my party," he added.

In 2006 it was Mr Odinga who revealed the existence of two Armenian brothers in Nairobi and even where they were staying.

At the time, he claimed that mercenaries had been brought into the country to assassinate some members of his party apart from participating in the Standard/KTN raid which they carried out jointly with the police.

He recorded a statement with the police and provided them with their identities and details of a private residence in Runda where the mercenaries were staying.

Weeks later, police raided the residence and arrested the two Armenian brothers Artur Margaryan and Artur Sargasyan who were deported amid claims that they were in the country at the invitation of senior government officials.

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