7 February 2013

Kenya: Tobiko Blocks Criminal Charges Against SK

Nairobi — The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Keriako Tobiko has temporarily blocked the intended prosecution of media mogul S.K Macharia by the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK).

Tobiko instead ordered the CCK to furnish him with all the materials and facts surrounding the shutdown of Royal Media Services (RMS) transmitters.

He said that the media firm's lawyers had particularly taken issue with the CCK for threatening Macharia with criminal charges, which they claimed was aimed at settling personal scores.

"The advocates contend that the threatened prosecution of the clients by CCK will be arbitrary, oppressive and contrary to public policy and that CCK aims to pressurise (RMS) to settle cases pending before the High Court," argued Tobiko.

He had also requested the CCK to give him all the material, which was used to form the decision to charge Macharia including the applications for search and seizure orders.

In a letter copied to the Inspector General of Police and CID director Ndegwa Muhoro, Tobiko also stopped all forms of action aimed at charging Macharia and his employees until he gave the go ahead.

"I direct that no investigative agency should take any precipitate steps to charge RMS and or S.K. Macharia or any of its employees until I receive and review the requested material and direct otherwise," he said.

The CCK on Monday announced that it was planning to institute criminal proceedings against Macharia for flouting laws governing the use of radio transmitters, after switching off 17 of them, following a five year court battle.

CCK on Monday said it would use the transmission equipment seized as evidence against the broadcast firm. CCK Secretary John Omo explained that the media house can therefore not re-install the transmitters.

RMS on the other hand accused the communications commission of switching off the transmitters which were the subject of court proceedings.

The commission however said it only switched off transmitters which the station had allocated itself and which were interfering with the aviation spectrum.

"We've had quite a long drawn court battle with that media house in respect of 22 other frequencies that are still the subject of a court matter that were also appropriated by that media house without the authority of the CCK," Omo added.

The Kenya Civil Aviation Authority Director of Safety and Security, Joe Mutungi, said the frequencies interfered with communication between pilots and the control tower.

"Airplanes have been landing slightly off the runway and I think the latest was last year. Egypt Air landed off the runway so we are investigating whether it could be weather or such radio interference," he said on Wednesday.

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