NAIROBI, August 1 – The High Court on Friday gave precedence to a case filed by Josephine Mukazitoni, the wife of Rwandan fugitive Felicien Kabuga, challenging a court order to freeze a multi-million shilling property belonging to Kabuga.
High Court judge Justice Muga Apondi ruled that since Mukazitoni’s case challenged the jurisdiction of the High Court to handle the matter, it was imperative that her objection be considered first, before another application by the Attorney General (AG) seeking to prosecute her husband is heard.
“I am of the opinion that we first deal with the preliminary objection because it seeks to challenge the jurisdiction of this court on the matter,” the Justice ruled.
He said that should the objection (which will now be heard on October 7 and 8) be allowed, the AG’s case would be rendered incompetent and the freezing orders issued by the same court in May would be set aside.
“In the event that the application succeeds, all the previous orders (preservation orders) will be vacated and the Director of Public Prosecution’s (DPP) application will be rendered incompetent,” Apondi said.
The court in May preserved Spanish Villa along Nairobi’s Lenana road, which is believed to be owned by Kabuga and Mukazitoni.
However, Mukazitoni through her lawyer Otachi Bw’Omanwa claims that the High Court, by freezing her otherwise legally acquired property, usurped powers vested in the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), based in Arusha.
She maintains that she legally acquired the villa and the government is now meddling with it, denying her a right to own property.
The DPP, Keriako Tobiko, while seeking to freeze the property, told the court that rental income from the Villa was being used by Kabuga to evade capture and avoid justice.
Tobiko claimed that the Villa was under the management of the Kenya Trust Company, a company whose physical location has not been established to date.
Mukazitoni, who is said to be residing in Belgium, has allegedly been receiving rental proceeds from the uptown Villa, wired to Belgium’s Banque De La Poste in her name.
The UN Security Council through the ICTR has constantly heaped pressure on Kenya to produce Kabuga, who is believed to have sought asylum and protection from powerful figures in Kenya.