Police are pursuing clues linking drug traffickers to the murder of Venezuela acting ambassador Olga Fonseca who was found strangled in her residence on July 27. Multiple sources said they had received reports indicating that some official or officials at the embassy had been using their diplomatic privileges to traffic in drugs.
They said that changes introduced by the envoy soon after she arrived in Kenya on July 15 may have displeased some of these officials who no longer had access to the diplomatic parcels. Fonseca replaced ambassador Gerardo Carillo- Silva who left the country in May soon after he was accused of sexual harassment by some of his staff at the embassy residence.
According to the police, the envoy's decision reportedly caused friction in the embassy and may have contributed to her murder. The sources who did not want to be identified however said the investigators were wary of aggressively pursuing the drug trafficking allegations for fear of causing a diplomatic row between Kenya and Venezuela.
According to the information they had received, the police linked some of the embassy staff, a few locals and some foreigners in drug trafficking. The sources said the drugs were being brought into the country as diplomatic parcels which, under the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, are not subjected to security checks.
Article 27 (3) of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations (1961) provides that “The diplomatic bag shall not be opened or detained.” Though the provision is clear the packages constituting the diplomatic bag must bear visible external marks of their character and may contain only diplomatic documents or articles intended for official use, such privileges can easily be misused especially if embassy officials in two different countries collude to transport illegal substances. The police have no right to even stop or inspect a vehicle carrying diplomatic cargo from or to the airport. Infact, police are required to provide security for its transport without any questions.
Article 27 (5) reads that “The diplomatic courier, who shall be provided with an official document indicating his status and the number of packages constituting the diplomatic bag, shall be protected by the receiving State in the performance of his functions. He shall enjoy person inviolability and shall not be liable to any form of arrest or detention.”
Article 27 (6) adds that “The sending State or the mission may designate diplomatic couriers ad hoc. In such cases the provisions of paragraph 5 of this article shall also apply, except that the immunities therein mentioned shall cease to apply when such a courier has delivered to the consignee the diplomatic bag in his charge.” The cargo applies for both maritime and aerial transportation.
The same convention also bars diplomats from abusing these privileges and immunities and requires that they respect the laws and regulations of the receiving state. Yesterday, police sources said they would this week seek the assistance of the Foreign Affairs ministry as they continue their investigations.
Their hunt for Dr Ahmed Mohammed, the house mate of the embassy's First Secretary Dwight Sagaray, was still on. By yesterday, police were confident that Ahmed was still in the country. They were following leads that he was being given sanctuary by a women friend at Runda. On the eve of the murder, Ahmed took the ambassador's vehicle, drove around with it most of the night before taking it back to the residence at dawn and leaving with the keys. A few hours later, Fonseca's was found strangled in her bedroom.
Sagaray is still being held at the Gigiri police station as police continue with their investigations. Sagaray has appeared in court but was not charged with murder. Two security guards— Eliud Kimutai and Benerad Owino— who were on duty have denied charges of failing to prevent the murder and were released on a Sh100,000 cash bail and a Sh500,000 surety. Their case will be heard on August 27.