Friday, 15 April 2011

Kenyan ICC suspect loses US$10 million at airport?

Comment of the Day
Something’s not right here. $10,000,000 in $100 would weigh 100 kg. He couldn’t be carrying that in a backpack. I doubt the story
April 14, 2011, 10:32 pm - soulstar
See report below.

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ICC suspect loses Sh840m at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport
From The Standard
By Standard Reporters
Published date Thursday, 14 April 2011. Full copy:
Police are investigating the reported loss of hand luggage containing about Sh840 million in hard cash. The luggage was being carried by one of The Hague suspects at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.

The police were told the bag had US$10 million in $100 bills. The bills had been tied in bundles and stuffed in the black bag he was seen carrying when he alighted from the plane.

"He had it when he came, only his bodyguards have recorded statements. He fears the perception the public would have of him if it were revealed he had with him such huge amount of money.

He has asked the police to keep it secret,’’ a senior police officer told The Standard in confidence.

When two of his bodyguards were questioned where they were when the bag disappeared, they explained to investigators they had gone to clear their boss’ papers with airport staff.

The bodyguards reportedly went looking for the bag on Monday evening – more than ten hours after the politician’s arrival.

They also later recorded statements explaining the circumstances in which they suspect the baggage went missing.

Police sources at Criminal Investigations Department headquarters and JKIA revealed the bodyguards cited their boss, saying he forgot the baggage at the VIP Lounge II, as he left in a hurry to board his car on Monday.

US dollars

"They say the bag had a lot of money in US dollars and their boss left it in the lounge, went for a short call, came back, and sat for a short while before they stood up and left for the arrival area," said a police source, who asked not to be named because of the sensitive nature of the loss and the orders to keep the investigations close to their chests.

The circumstances around the massive loss remain mysterious because surveillance cameras, according to police sources, only recorded the politician with the bag inside the VIP Lounge II, and when he changed his seat.

But the Monday morning CCTV camera footage the police have been ordered to review meticulously record the politician sitting in the lounge with his bag, but does not capture what happened to the bulky hand luggage after he rose to go to the washrooms.

Photo: Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Nairobi. Photo: Kenya Airports Authority

Both Airport commander Philip Tuimur and his CID counterpart, Joseph Ngisa, refused to comment on the incident Thursday.
A number of Kenya Airports Authority staff and security officers have been questioned in connection with the incident.

At the lounge, several MPs trooped in to welcome the three, when they returned from The Hague.

Security was heavy at the airport then, and only people who were regarded as VIPs were allowed to get into the arrival lounge.

However, police, though uncertain about who walked away with the cash, however suspect the politician may have, in the excitement of rushing out to be met by supporters dancing, and praising him, forgot the treasured bag.

The cameras, however, show him walking out of the lounge and onto the ecstatic welcome by his supporters outside the airport – without the bag he was seen carrying when he left his plane and when he entered the lounge reserved for eminent personalities, diplomats, and top Government officials.

It is not clear how the politician walked through the airport security barrier in Nairobi and at The Hague, with the substantive amount of money, and if at all he had the cash with him when he left Kenya in the first place on May 6.

Forgot the bag

Sources, however, believe he carried the money with him just in case he was asked to deposit a cash bond with the International Criminal Court, to secure his freedom.

The bond would demonstrate will to show up at The Hague when required, following earlier application by Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo to this effect. But despite Moreno-Ocampo’s application, the Pre-Trial Chamber II judges last week confined themselves only to the identification of the suspects, informing them of their rights, and fixing dates for status review conference, and confirmation hearings.

strict confidence

Detectives were yesterday said to be combing the airport for any evidence that could lead them to whoever may have taken the prized bag.

But in keeping with police tradition of first verifying claims of crime, the detectives are also reportedly keen on also establishing if the well-endowed politician indeed had such amount of money with him at the time.

They are also under orders to piece together what happened inside the lounge for the three hours Finance minister Uhuru Kenyatta, Eldoret North MP William Ruto, and Kass FM radio journalist Joshua arap Sang were at the airport.

It was from here that Uhuru and Ruto were driven to the Uhuru Park ‘prayer’ rally, which Sang, and the other three suspects – Henry Kosgey, Hussein Ali, and Francis Muthaura – skipped.

Though the police were, unlike in other high-profile cases they handle, secretive, it was revealed they were looking at "a figure of more than US$10 million."

When he landed he had the black bag in question among his personal belongings.

The matter is being handled in strict confidence by a team of detectives.

Meanwhile, it has also emerged police are looking for former Kamkunji MP Simon Mbugua for allegedly causing public disturbance at the airport on Monday.

Mbugua is claimed to have confronted Kangundo MP Johnstone Muthama.

Mbugua’s bodyguards have since been arrested and taken to court and charged with causing public disturbance.

Police at the airport said they had not been able to contact Mbugua for questioning.

"We intend to move to court to seek a warrant to arrest him because he seems to be elusive. We have been trying to reach him in vain," said Ngisa.
Hat tip Will Swanson

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