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Rwanda Tribunal Asks Kenya for Help Finding Alleged Genocide Mastermind


The prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda Thursday called on the Kenyan government to help find one of the leaders of Rwanda's 1994 genocide. He is reported to have business interests in Kenya and frequently visits, or even could be hiding in, the country.

This is not the first time tribunal prosecutor Hassan Bubacar Jallow has asked for Kenya's help in tracking down Felicien Kabuga, a businessman who is accused of funding the Hutu rebel group that carried out the genocide.

"I came here last year on the same issue and it seemed to me, and is evident, that no progress had been made since last year on this particular file, and that's why I came back - for us to again together re-examine how we should move forward on the matter," he said.

Jallow says the government officials he met with on this mission assured him of Kenya's support, and stressed that Kenya's help is vital in capturing Kabuga.

"As a result of my discussions here, I'm hoping that by the time I'm due to report back to the [U.N.] Security Council by the 15th of December, I hope we will have something positive to report on this particular case. All of us should try and rise to that challenge so that at the end of the day we will contribute to combating impunity by ensuring that one of the prime architects of this horrendous genocide of Rwanda is arrested and is held to account in a court of law," he said.

Jallow says he and the Kenyan officials agreed to several measures that the government will take to track Kabuga down, but would not give details on those measures.

But Kenyan government spokesman Alfred Mutua says that his government has no idea where Kabuga is.

"As far as the government is aware, Kabuga is not in Kenya," he said. "This government has no reason to shield or hide Kabuga, as speculated by a few people. Therefore, making allegations that this wanted criminal has bribed officials to hide him is simplistic considering the bounty on his head and the fact that Kenya has been in the forefront of arresting and repatriating war criminals for trial."

The United States has offered a $5 million reward for information leading to Kabuga's arrest.

The tribunal indicted Kabuga in 1997, accusing him of funding a radio station that aired anti-Tutsi propaganda, urged Hutus to kill Tutsis and paid for the rebel group's food, machetes and other expenses. Kabuga's charges include genocide and crimes against humanity.

In the 1994 genocide, Hutu extremists killed some 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus.

The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, based in Tanzania, was subsequently formed to try the cases of high-profile people accused of masterminding or contributing to the genocide in a major way.

Kabuga is one of 18 high-profile suspects the tribunal is looking for.