NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 11 – The Attorney General’s office says Kenyan courts have power to hear a case against Rwandan fugitive Felicien Kabuga, contrary to arguments by his wife.
Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Keriako Tobiko told Justice Muga Apondi that a piece of property which is subject of a suit is within the territorial jurisdiction of the High Court of Kenya.
Mr Tobiko argued that an objection lodged by 66-year old Josephine Mukazitoni lacked merit and was based on misconceptions of relevant laws. He urged the court to dismiss it.
Ms Mukazitoni through lawyer Ken Ogeto had sought to have the freeze imposed on Spanish Villas along Lenana Road in Nairobi in May this year lifted, saying the order infringed on her constitutional rights.
“If this court has no jurisdiction, then my lord, you would ask yourself a question: ‘Who has the jurisdiction?” Mr Tobiko posed. “It would be absurd if the court cannot have jurisdiction over a property within its territorial jurisdiction.”
He maintained that documents presented before the court indicated that Ms Mukazitoni is the wife of the fugitive and that claim has not been challenged.
The DPP said there was evidence that a bank account into which rental proceeds from the property were being deposited, was held in the names of both Ms Mukazitoni and Mr Kabuga and the property was registered in their joint names.
He told the court that there were instructions to a local firm (Kenya Trust Company Limited) appointed to manage the villas on behalf of the two to make monthly remittances to the account.
“Ms Mukazitoni cannot extricate herself from her husband and contend that the property is exclusively hers,” the DPP argued.
Mr Kabuga has been indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in Arusha Tanzania over his alleged role in the Rwandan genocide.
Two weeks ago, Mr Ogeto told justice Apondi that his client was not a wanted criminal by the tribunal which he accused of blackmailing Kenya because it (the tribunal) does not have the power to force States into arresting individuals.
Mr Ogeto also claimed that the DPP’s reliance on the tribunal’s statutes was wrong because it has not been domesticated as it should before being adopted.
He said the Kenyan Constitution does not allow application of International Law and the Court ‘ought to be more cautious’ in a situation where the Attorney General relied on international instruments.
“There is a huge vacuum in our law in relation to the Constitution,” he said.
Ms Mukazitoni who is said to reside in Belgium has allegedly been receiving rental proceeds from the uptown villas, which are wired to Belgium’s Banque De La Poste in her name.
Mr Kabuga however remains at large, over a decade after the heinous crime that took 800,000 lives in the land-locked country of Rwanda.
The UN Security Council through the Arusha-based ICTR has constantly heaped pressure on Kenya to produce Kabuga, who is believed to have sought asylum and protection from powerful figures in Kenya.