Wife challenges Kabuga asset freeze

July 29, 2008 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, July 29 – The wife of Rwandan fugitive Felicien Kabuga has now moved to the High Court seeking to reverse a freeze order on one of his properties in Nairobi’s Kilimani area.

Josephine Mukazitoni, through lawyer Otachi Bw’Omanwa, Tuesday challenged the jurisdiction of the Kenyan Courts in handling a matter arguing that it was already before the Arusha-based International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).

In the court papers, Mukazitoni petitioned the court to expeditiously dispose of the case filed by the Attorney General (AG), saying he is attempting to usurp the powers of the ICTR by filing the case that led to a freezing order on rents collected from a villa along Lenana road in Nairobi.

She argued that the court’s directive in May to freeze her husband’s assets was oppressive and has deprived her of the only source of her livelihood.

Kabuga’s spouse also claimed that the court is not an agent of ICTR and therefore has no jurisdiction to entertain the case.

In response, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Keriako Tobiko said the application raised serious issues of the law which deserved to be well ventilated

Tobiko said his office would be seeking to cross-examine Kabuga’s wife, judging from a replying affidavit sworn by her.

However, the lawyer in a quick rejoinder dismissed Tobiko’s statement saying the issue of his client being cross-examined was another matter altogether.

Justice Muga Apondi, in his ruling, said the court appreciates the urgency of the matter and agrees to give parties in the case the earliest possible hearing date – in this case, Thursday.

“The court appreciates the urgency of this matter and is willing to give the parties an earliest possible hearing date,” Justice Apondi ruled.

The court froze Kabuga’s multi-million shilling property in Nairobi following an application by the AG.

The DPP who had made the request notified Justice Muga Apondi that a property in the name of the fugitive and his wife had been located in Nairobi.

He told the court that proceeds from rental income are wired to Belgium’s Banque De La Poste in the name of Kabuga’s wife Mukazitoni Josephine.

The DPP said it is believed that Kabuga was using the proceeds form these property to evade capture and avoid justice.

Consequently, justice Apondi ordered that the rental income for ‘Spanish villa’ property along Lenana Road in Nairobi’s Kilimani estate be deposited with the High Court Registrar.

The villa is allegedly under the management of Kenya Trust Company whose physical location has not been established.

The judge also allowed the DPP to serve Kabuga through local and international media which was consequently affected days later.

This move had followed a request from ICTR to the Attorney General Amos Wako in April, requiring the status report on the Kabuga case.

The United States has placed a five-million-dollar (over Sh300 million) bounty on Kabuga’s head. The Rwandan national has been on the run for years since being indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) for his role in the 1994 genocide that claimed 800,000 lives.

Kabuga, an ethnic Hutu, has been accused of being a key financier and supplying machetes and other weapons to carry out the massacre of his mostly Tutsi compatriots, within four months in 1994.



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