Perplexing case of first diplomat to face capital offence in Kenya

Saturday, January 28th, 2023 05:20 | By
Venezuelan diplomat Dwight Saragay. PHOTO/PRINT.
Venezuelan diplomat Dwight Saragay. PHOTO/PRINT.

Dwight Saragay, who was on Wednesday found guilty of killing a former Venezuelan Ambassador, became the first top diplomat to be charged with a capital offence in Kenya.

Almost everything about Saragay’s career and downfall were swift. Although the wheels of justice initially turned slowly, everything else happened very fast. And finally, on Wednesday, Justice Roseline Korir found him and his co-accused guilty. Sagaray was convicted alongside three co-accused: Ahmed Omindo, Alex Wanyonyi and Moses Kalya.

According to the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations (1961), all diplomats, under international law, are to be considered not susceptible to lawsuits or prosecution under their host country’s laws.

If they are to be charged, the immunity must first be waived, following a procedure, since they enjoy immunity from criminal proceedings.  But Saragay — who rose very fast in the Venezuelan Foreign Service — was stripped of immunity by his country within 24 hours, and placed in a cell at Gigiri Police Station.

Interestingly enough, the Foreign Service of Venezuela never objected at all. Again, President Hugo Chavez, Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro, and Attorney General Luisa Ortega Diaz, were silent about the whole issue.  Sagaray’s colleagues say he was a lucky man who rose fast but fell harder ... and seemed to have been at the right place at the right time.

Top position

He had previously worked as a lawyer for the Labour Ministry where his tasks included representing Venezuela at international meetings to discuss labour issues.  He was hired at the Venezuelan Foreign ministry in July 2010 and, within a few days, he was sent to Kenya where he served briefly before being promoted to the second top position at Nairobi embassy.

When the former ambassador, Gerardo Carrillo Silva, fled Kenya in March 2011 after he was accused of sexual harassment by three male Kenyan employees, Saragay became the top envoy in the country. He took control of the embassy, including the financial accounts.

In mid-July 2012, officials in Caracas, the capital of Venezuela, deployed Olga Fonseca to Nairobi to take over as the Charge d’Affaires.

And on July 27, 2012, the veteran diplomat Fonseca was found murdered in her official Runda residence.  This happened just 12 days after she took over as head of the embassy.

Saragay was a close associate of Mohamed Ahmed Hassan, who the court found to have been the main planner and executor of the murder, but is still at large.

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