Appeal Court affirms freeze on Kabuga assets

The Court of Appeal has dismissed an attempt by the wife of Rwandese fugitive Felicien Kabuga to lift a freeze on assets she co-owns with her husband.

Five Court of Appeal judges have ruled that the United Nations Security Council resolutions declaring Mr Kabuga a fugitive were binding on Kenya hence the government was right to freeze any assets he owns in the country.

The fugitive’s wife, Josephine Mukazitoni, had held that the High Court had no authority to issue the freeze orders, and wanted the Appellate Court judges to overturn Justice Muga Apondi’s 2009 decision that gave the Kenyan government a go-ahead to freeze the assets.

Mr Kabuga was indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in 1998 for his alleged role in the country’s 1994 genocide that saw an estimated 1 million people killed.

The Kenyan government froze his only known asset in Kenya—Spanish Villas—which he co-owns with Ms Mukazitoni.

“We have established that the UN Security Council Resolutions that are subject of this appeal are binding, applicable and enforceable in Kenya. As the resolutions create a binding legal obligation on Kenya, they should be accorded respectful consideration within Kenya’s domestic system,” the judges held.

The government will now be required to take charge of the property and preserve it until Mr Kabuga’s case before the ICTR is concluded.

Mr Kabuga is wanted for charges of conspiracy to commit genocide, genocide, complicity in genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide and extermination as a crime against humanity.

The Rwandese businessman has been a major source of controversy for the Kenyan government following accusations that it has been habouring the fugitive and protecting him from arrest.

The Attorney General moved to the High Court in 2008 to stop Mr Kabuga and Ms Mukazitoni from transferring the property, and sought to collect the rent and preserve it pending determination of the ICTR suit.

Ms Mukazitoni objected to the case, but Justice Apondi dismissed her stand. She then appealed the decision, but justices Martha Koome, John Mwera, Fatuma Sichale, Otieno-Odek and Sankale ole Kantai upheld the decision of the High Court.