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Scuffle at Kenya's Airport Draws Outrage


Kenya’s abrupt deportation of two Armenian businessmen, described as mercenaries, who wielded guns at Kenyan customs officials at Kenyatta International Airport last week, is sparking a presidential inquiry into the matter. Opposition MP Raila Odinga says President Mwai Kibaki is to blame. Odinga charges that the Armenians, identified as the Artur brothers, led the widely criticized police raid on Kenya’s Standard Media Group television station and newspaper offices last March.

President Kibaki ordered an inquiry one day after suspending the country’s chief police investigator, Joseph Kamau, and ten other officials, who deported the Armenians for pulling their pistols on customs agents who had asked them to open their luggage at the airport last Thursday. The foreign merchants were deported to Dubai without being charged.

The editorial director of Nairobi’s Citizen FM Radio, Herman Igambi, tells VOA English to Africa reporter Howard Lesser it is thought the two men received preferential treatment from authorities because they had secured government protection to conduct their business in the country.

“This rumor has been there, although it cannot be proven, because it was said that the arrogance by which they were conducting themselves hinted towards maybe somebody might be protecting them. The government has now decided to investigate the matter thoroughly for another two weeks to establish exactly who was protecting them and what they were doing in the country.”

As to why Kenya’s top police investigator and ten legal deputies have been suspended from their jobs, Igambi says it is related to the March raid on Kenya’s Standard Media Group. “It had been claimed that the raid of The Standard and KTN had been ordered by the director of Criminal Investigations Department without authorization by the commissioner of police. And that matter has been gaining momentum every day.”

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