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Suspect arrested in DRC blood gold probe

NAIROBI, Kenya, May 11 – A Congolese man described by police as a prime suspect in the smuggling of 2.5 tonnes of gold from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) was arrested in Nairobi on Tuesday night.

Police officers investigating the gold syndicate told Capital News that they had been hunting for the man said to be a rebel leader in the DRC for several weeks, until Tuesday night when they pounced on him at a house in Lavington.

"He is now in our custody undergoing interrogation over the smuggling of gold which mysteriously disappeared from a warehouse in Nairobi," a police officer, speaking on condition of anonymity said.

"We want to establish what he knows about this issue.  We have been trying to get him in vain but finally we got him," the detective added.

He was arrested by a team of detectives that was detailed to unravel the smuggling syndicate with the help of the Flying Squad officers.

According to police, the gold was smuggled to Kenya from the DRC and kept at a warehouse as it awaited delivery to international buyers. The gold is said to have disappeared mysteriously days later.

But police said they had been instructed to also investigate if indeed there was actual gold in the warehouse or whether it was only indicated on paper.

For the better part of Wednesday, the suspect was being interrogated at the Flying Squad headquarters at the Nairobi Area Provincial Police headquarters on Milimani road.

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"Once we are through with him, he will be produced (in court),\’ the officer said but did not divulge charges the suspect is likely to face.

Police did not provide details of the role the suspect played in the gold-smuggling syndicate which prompted DRC President Joseph Kabila to travel to Nairobi in March for emergency talks with his Kenyan counterpart Mwai Kibaki on measures to be taken to curb the illegal gold trade from the DRC.

President Kabila is understood to have handed over a letter to the Kenya government at the time, with names and companies believed to have been involved in the illegal gold trade.

Soon after President Kabila\’s visit, the Kenya government constituted a team that commenced a joint investigation with their DRC counterparts.

Internal Security Minister Professor George Saitoti at the time announced that legal action would be taken against individuals and companies found culpable.

A report of the investigation was sought in Parliament two weeks ago, but it has yet to be tabled.

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