23 April 2019

Kenya: Swazuri, 10 Others Given Bail After 5 Nights in Cells

Embattled former National Land Commission boss Muhammad Swazuri has been granted bail after spending the long Easter holiday in custody.

The Nairobi court set cash bail terms for Mr Swazuri at Sh12 millions others and gave varying bond terms for 10-accused after ruling that the suspects are unlikely to interfere with case.

The 11 suspects were charged with corruption related offences on Thursday last week and had to spend Easter behind bars after prosecutors opposed their bid to be released on bond. They denied the charges.

In the application for bail, the defence argued that the prosecution, which opposed their release saying they are likely to interfere with the trial, had not tabled evidence to show that the accused had interfered with witnesses or would fail to attend court for the trial.

THE ACCUSED

Prof Swazuri is charged alongside former National Land Commission commissioner Emma Njogu, former NLC chief executive officer Tom Aziz Chavangi, Dr Salome Munubi, director valuation and taxation and the Commission's secretary Lilian Kaverenge.

They denied more than 20 counts including corruption, abuse of office, financial misconduct, fraudulent acquisition of public funds and money laundering.

Other suspects are Francis Mugo, the director of finance and administration at NLC, businessman Samuel Rugongo, Godfrey Muritu, Evahmary Wachera, Michael Oloo and an advocate Catherine Wanjiru.

They are accused jointly of conspiring to commit corruption through fraudulent payment of Sh109 million for alleged compulsory acquisition of land from Tornado carriers on behalf of Kenya National Highways Authority.

The land was for the construction of the Mombasa Southern Bypass and Kipevu New Highway Container Terminal link road.

Prof Swazuri also denies abuse of office charges. He is alleged to have approved a second valuation of Sh109 million as compensation for the land initially valued at Sh34.5 million.

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