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31 suspects arraigned in court but not required to plead

Thirty one suspects were  on Monday, arraigned before a Kiambu Court on suspicion of having been involved in registration of fake birth certificates, therefore, abetting corruption that resulted in the loss of millions of shillings from the government.

The suspects were presented before Kiambu Chief Magistrate (CM), Ms. Patricia Gichohi, but were not required to plead as the police sought to be given 10 days within which they will complete their investigations.

Most of the suspects are civil servants who were formally working at St. Francis Community Hospital in Kasarani, Nairobi County and the Central Registry staff of the (ACK Bishop), Nairobi County offices

In his miscellaneous application No.290 of 2019, Chief Inspector, Evans K.Sang, prayed to the court to allow him ample time to complete investigations into the matter.

He told Court that he was investigating a case of false registration of documents, contrary to section 320 of the Penal Code, making a false document contrary to section 347 of the Penal Code and abuse of office contrary to Section 101 of the Penal Code among others at the Central Registry staff (ACK BISHOP).

The complainant in the case is the Government of Kenya through the Director of Criminal Investigation (DCI).

The  Officer further noted that the information held in the offices of Registrar of Births and Deaths at various hospitals all over Kenya is vital as far as the case is concerned and particularly on the side of the material where it can be retrieved.

He  further added that the case was complex and long thus necessitating custodial orders to detain the suspects in the police cells so as to finalize the investigations and also to have forensic examinations on the phones of the suspects.

The  suspects were represented by a battery of lawyers led by Senior Counsel, Eric Mutua, who vehemently opposed the application to have their clients detained in police custody.

Their  argument was that the police have had ample time since 2018 to investigate the case and that an additional 10 days was and infringement on the rights of the suspects most of them, family people, whose families were suffering from the time they were arrested on November 1st.Some were single and were ailing, therefore, required to be set free according to Mutua.

He  further averred that the case had been of public interest and that last Friday, Cabinet Secretary (CS) for Interior  and National Co-ordination, Dr. Fred Matiang’i, had reportedly been quoted in the media, saying that police had wrapped up investigations and would soon charge the suspects.

Mutua told the Court to release the suspects as most of them had co-operated with the police since they had surrendered to the stations upon instructions where they were locked up without being told why they had been arrested.

He also expressed concern that the police had reverted to “Friday arrests” so that they could subject suspects to undue suffering since they could not be arraigned in court on a Saturday as courts do not operate over the weekend.

This, he said, was an infringement on the rights of the suspects which was their constitutional right that should not be taken away from them until proven guilty.

He added that majority of the suspects had already been interdicted and there was no possibility of them appearing at their places of work to interfere with investigations.

For  the DPP, Senior State Counsel, Christine Mbevi, pleaded with the Court to grant the investigating officer the days he had requested. “Infact even 10 days are not sufficient and the Court should grant him more days so that he can come up with a water tight case,” she said.

The Council clarified that the prisons had adequate health facilities where the suspects could be treated while in custody. She added that most of the witnesses in the case were former colleagues of the suspects and that if released, they would interfere with the case.

However, the Magistrate, said she would deliver her ruling on the application on November 6th 2019 and directed that the 10 be remanded at the Gigiri Police Station while another 10 at Kileleshwa Police Station and the rest 11 at Muthangari Police Station as per the application by the investigating officer.

This did not go well with the lawyers who attempted to plead with the Magistrate to deliver the ruling tomorrow, but were not successful as she said she had to study the documents presented in Court alongside attending to her other duty assignments.

The  Court  was treated to more drama when Brian Khaemba, the Magistrate who resigned after being involved in granting Kiambu Governor, Ferdinand Waititu , an Anticipatory Bail of Sh.100,000 on a corruption case showed up to represent Four of the suspects.

His  efforts to arm-twist the Magistrate by referring to his former status were futile when he was told “let’s not get into that  please,”.

By  Lydia Shiloya

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