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Kenya pressured to apprehend fugitive from Rwandan genocide

NAIROBI, Kenya—U.S. and other international diplomats are stepping up pressure on Kenya to arrest the man who's accused of being the primary financier behind Rwanda's 1994 genocide.

Investigators with the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, which is trying war-crimes suspects, have seen Felicien Kabuga, a wealthy businessman who allegedly provided money and supplies to the extremist Hutu militias that massacred 800,000 rival Tutsis over three months, several times this year in Kenya.

He's evaded capture repeatedly, leading some investigators to suspect that a security network linked to the Kenyan government is protecting him.

On Thursday, the tribunal's chief prosecutor, Hassan Bubacar Jallow, said Kenyan authorities had assured him after two days of meetings in Nairobi that they'd investigate suspected Kabuga associates, provide more information on his movements in and out of the country, and possibly seize assets.

"All the information that continues to reach us is to the effect that he visits or resides and carries on business in this country," Jallow said.

Kenyan officials denied knowledge of Kabuga's whereabouts and rejected claims of complicity, saying they'd helped capture several other Rwandan fugitives whom the tribunal wanted.

"Just because you suspect someone doesn't mean they are there," government spokesman Alfred Mutua said.

U.S. and European diplomats issued a joint statement Thursday urging Kenya "to pursue all available leads."

"We are hopeful that these efforts will soon bear fruit with the apprehension and prosecution of Mr. Kabuga before the ICTR," the statement said, referring to the tribunal.

In a visit to Kenya last month, U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., accused the country of providing safe haven to Kabuga, drawing sharp rebuttals from Kenyan officials.

The Tanzania-based tribunal indicted Kabuga in 1997. He's accused of supplying machetes, hoes and other tools that the extremist Interahamwe militia used as weapons.

In 2002, U.S. authorities offered a $5 million reward for information leading to Kabuga's capture. The wealthy businessman—who's reported to hold stakes in Kenyan transportation, real estate and farming—is thought to have a formidable protection network that includes former Kenyan officials who tip him whenever investigators are closing in.

A Kenyan informant, William Munuhe, was murdered in 2002 one day before he was expected to lure Kabuga to a meeting at which U.S. investigators were to seize him.

"We have got very, very close to him and he has escaped," Jallow said.

Kabuga is one of 18 people who've been indicted in the Rwandan genocide but have yet to be captured. The others are thought to be hiding in the remote eastern reaches of the Democratic Republic of Congo, in territory held by Congolese rebels.

The tribunal has decided 31 cases stemming from the genocide and has convicted 26 people of war crimes. All cases are expected to be concluded by 2008.


(c) 2006, McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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