Murder unresolved 10 years after bid to unmask Kabuga fails

By PETER KAHARE

NAIROBI, KENYA; On  January 17, 2003, William Munuhe Gichuki was found dead in his house at Karen estate. His death was linked to Felicien Kabuga, a Rwandan man connected with financing, incitement and supplying weapons in the 1994 genocide. To date, Kabuga is still roaming free while the mystery surrounding Munuhe’s death remains unresolved and as far as the family is concerned, the police are still investigating.

 Ten years after his death, Munuhe’s family has kept hope alive that their kin’s death would be resolved. With investigations by the police having yielded little result so far, Munuhe’s relatives are now trying yet one more time to settle the matter once and for all through the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions. They want the DPP to set up an independent public inquest into the death of Munuhe.

 Munuhe’s mother Lydia Wangui vividly recounts her last conversation with her late son in December 2002, a few days before he died. She maintains that her son, a freelance journalist,  was murdered for giving information that would have led to Kabuga’s arrest and justice for Rwandans. 

 “He visited me at home in Nyeri in the December holiday and brought foodstuff for the holiday.  He, however, looked so downcast and disturbed as he explained that some unknown people were hunting him. He suspected that the unknown individuals were police officers who wanted to arrest him for having revealed the truth about Kabuga’s presence in Kenya,” says Wangui.

 Wangui, 61, says her son had told her that he personally knew Kabuga and another powerful politician.    “He told me that he knew Kabuga and had spoken to him several times.” He told his mother that his house at Karen was large and that he used to host and accommodate politicians and other influential people, says Wangui.

After leaving Nyeri, Munuhe had promised to visit his mother a few days later but died before he could do that. She recounts how she marvelled at the spacious and luxurious house his son was living in when she once visited him at Karen.  “He had a nice, spacious house when I visited him and I also got curious about it,” says Wangui.

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 On receiving information about his death, Wangui went to his Karen home and demanded to get into the house. “I saw bloodstains on the wall and an empty bed, clothes were scattered all over,” recalls the mother. Wangui was overwhelmed with grief and could not accompany her elder son and husband to the mortuary to view Munuhe’s body.

Two days before Munuhe’s death, Wangui says she had a premonition and in her dream she saw a crowd of people gathered in her home. “They wore different colours and I felt so shaken, I did not immediately know the meaning of it but after Munuhe died the meaning dawned on me.”

Wangui describes her son as   creative, focused, polite  and dedicated to his work. At the time of his death, Munuhe was said to be working closely with FBI agents to deliver Kabuga. He was said to have divulged vital information about the hideouts of Kabuga to the American authorities.

 The family has formally written to DPP Tobiko urging him to order a public inquest into Munuhe’s death. In the letter dated January 7 this year, the family says:  “Since his murder on January 14, 2003 in yet to be explained circumstances, the family has waited in vain for more than ten years for law enforcement agencies to resolve the mystery.”

 Josephat Mureithi Gichuki, who is Munuhe’s elder brother, says in the letter that “the family believes strongly that Mr William Munuhe Gichuki’s murder was linked to the ongoing international search for the Rwandan fugitive Felicien Kabuga, who is believed to be holed up in a secret location in Kenya under the protection of powerful people, hence we believe that the said powerful people/interests are behind the ongoing cover-up on my brother’s murder.”

 The letter says the public inquest should aim at bringing to justice the perpetrators of the crime. Mureithi says  his mother and entire family want to know who killed Munuhe.

MURDER

 “He was not sick, he was found dead in his house and the condition in the room pointed at murder, we feel as a family that his prior relationship with some influential people and alleged contacts with Kabuga was connected to his death,” says Mureithi.

 The young man’s death  has left his parents, brothers and Munuhe’s twin sister traumatised, Mureithi wrote. “I saw his body, his face was disfigured, the FBI security agencies and Kenya police officers broke into his house, the camera could not capture his face clearly, the killers used an acidic substance on his face.”

Mureithi believes that despite offering to give information on the Rwandan fugitive, his brother was betrayed. “Going by the details in a letter Munuhe wrote before dying, he was most likely betrayed by people in the same investigating agencies,” notes Mureithi. The family alleges that the letter was found in Munuhe’s trousers after he died.

 In the letter, Munuhe revealed that he had been “kidnapped at gun point by three men. He was blindfolded and driven around Nairobi for three to four hours.” He was then taken into a dark room where he  was interrogated by three men. He was asked about his relationship with Americans.

 Munuhe wrote in his letter that he was bludgeoned by two men using batons but he would not reveal his association with American investigators. The handwritten letter states that it was not until Munuhe was taken into a dark room and ordered to undress and a man “started clutching his private parts that he disclosed his connection with the FBI.”

  Afterwards he was led to the interrogation room where he found “three men seated with Kabuga. Kabuga explained to him that they had a tape of his conversation with one Mr Scott and other people.”

“He (Kabuga) criticised me for betraying him,”  the letter says. 

 Andrew Mwangi Gichuki, another of  Munuhe’s brothers, raises questions regarding the manner in which  investigators handled the matter. In a statement he issued two years after Munuhe’s death, Mwangi questions how and why information had seemingly leaked from the investigators to   prominent people in government.

 Mwangi demanded an explanation from the then government pathologist as to how “a person could die of carbon monoxide poisoning, vomit a pool of blood and have his body skin corroded.” 

“We know the murder was covered up by the  injection of carbon monoxide. Drugs and corrosive acid was used to disfigure him,” Mwangi asserts. 

 Nakuru County Human Rights Network (NAHURINET) director David Kuria observed that the government should order an inquest into Munuhe’s death. “The inquest is long overdue, the family has the right to know the truth about their relative,” says Kuria.

 On February 13, 2003, the US Embassy released a press statement condemning Munuhe’s death which it claimed was directly connected with his willingness to provide information on Kabuga’s location.

 The statement revealed that the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) and the US Embassy kept close contacts with Munuhe because of concerns of his safety.  It says that Munuhe chose to remain in Kenya because he believed he could be helpful in “apprehending a dangerous criminal.”  The statement, however, stops short of clearing the air on the said Mr Scott who was allegedly mentioned by Kabuga as having had a conversation with Munuhe.


 

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Karen Estate Felicien Kabuga Rwanda Genocide