Kenyan police denied Tuesday that they were slow to act on a tip-off over the 1998 murder in Nairobi of former Rwandan interior minister Seth Sendashonga.
Testifying in the high court against three people suspected of being involved in the killing, Chief Inspector Daniel Seroney said police could not act on information without proof.
The court has heard that police were told hitmen hired by one of the accused, Rwandan David Kiwanuka, were looking for Sendashonga.
"We had to act cautiously and lay an ambush for this Kiwanuka and catch him in the act of hiring hitmen, so that we could charge him with intent to murder," Seroney told the court.
"Furthermore, we did not even know who this Sendashonga was," he added.
Sendashonga, a Hutu, served as interior minister in the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) government that took power after the mainly Tutsi movement seized Kigali in July 1994 following a genocide which claimed the lives of between 500,000 and 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus.
He was gunned down with his driver on the outskirts of Nairobi on May 16, 1998.
Seroney told the court that two police officers posing as hitmen met Kiwanuka on May 14, 1998 and he promised them 100,000 Kenyan shillings (then 1,500 dollars) for each of four people he wanted killed.
He said Kiwanuka also pledged to supply the guns they would use to do the job the next day, but while officers were still waiting for him on May 16, police learnt that Sendashonga had been murdered.
"Upon his arrest on May 19, Kiwanuka confessed to me that his mission was complete and that he could now die in peace," Seroney told the court.
Seroney said Kiwanuka led police to the other two suspects, Ugandans Charles Muhanji and Christopher Lubanga, claiming that they were the hitmen he had hired to do the job.
Justice Mbogholi Msagha adjourned the hearing to January 8, when two key police witnesses are expected to testify.
On Monday, Sendashonga's widow, Cydriaque Nukuze accused the Rwandan government of playing a part in the killing -- NAIROBI (AFP)
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)