Venezuela's first secretary at its embassy in Kenya was charged Monday with murdering the newly arrived ambassador as allegations surfaced that officials at the scandal-plagued post in Nairobi may have been trafficking drugs under cover of diplomatic immunity, Kenyan media reported.
Dwight Sagaray entered a plea of not guilty when he appeared before a Nairobi judge to answer to murder charges in the July 27 slaying of veteran diplomat Olga Fonseca, the reports said. The 57-year-old envoy, who had arrived to the Kenya post just 12 days before her death, was found strangled in the bedroom of her official residence.
Kenyan nationals employed at the embassy told police at the time of Sagaray's arrest last week that relations with the new ambassador had soured quickly after her arrival because she had ordered staff who lodged sexual-harassment complaints against her predecessor to withdraw them. When they refused to retract their allegations, Fonseca fired them, local media reported.
The previous Venezuelan ambassador, Gerardo Carillo-Silva, reportedly fled his post after Kenyan authorities attempted to have his diplomatic immunity stripped so they could prosecute him for alleged abuse of three male Kenyan employees.
On Monday, the Star newspaper reported that unnamed diplomats at the Venezuelan Embassy had been using the diplomatic pouch to smuggle drugs into Kenya in collusion with local traffickers.
"Changes introduced by [Fonseca] 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," the newspaper said, citing "multiple sources" at the embassy and among Nairobi police investigators.
Authorities have also issued an arrest warrant for Kenyan physician Mohamed Ahmed, a friend of Sagaray, as an alleged co-conspirator in Fonseca's murder, the CapitalFM News agency reported.
Sagaray was being held at a Nairobi jail without bail at prosecutor Tabitha Ouya's request, in order to give authorities more time to investigate and process forensic and DNA evidence collected at the crime scene.
-- Carol J. Williams in Los Angeles
Photo: Dwight Sagaray, first secretary at the Venezuelan Embassy in Kenya, is flanked by security guards at a court appearance in Nairobi last week. Credit: Dai Kurokawa / EPA