Kenya: Court Releases 3 Arrested At Punjani's House As Prosecution Fails to Prefer Charges

15 August 2019

Mombasa — Three foreigners arrested at Mombasa tycoon Ali Punjani's home on Tuesday have been released by a Shanzu Magistrate Court.

Karki Sushmija, Shiva Bashyal and Ram Manoj were nabbed at Punjani's Nyali home at the end of a two-day raid in search of narcotics after which police only recovered two rolls of bhang.

Punjani, an associate of the Akasha family, was not a home. He is away in India for heart-related medication.

Shushmija, a 24-year-old, is a wife to Punjani and Bashyal is a cousin to Shushmija. They are Nepalese.

Manoj, an Indian, said he was a relative to the Punjani family.

Two other individuals - Lucy Njeri Njane and Bonfance Maelo - who were also arrested in connection to the matter were released.

Police were Wednesday granted 24-hours to finish their probe against the five after filing an application seeking to continue holding the suspects for seven days.

The Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) had through a miscellaneous application sought for seven more days to continue detaining the suspects at the Nyali Police Station to enable police complete investigations.

The court warned that should the police fail to prefer charges within the extended period that lapsed at 4pm on Thursday, the suspects will be freed unconditionally.

Shanzu Senior Resident Magistrate David Odhiambo declined to grant the State the seven-days it sought.

The prosecution told the court on Thursday it had not gathered enough evidence and sought to close the file.

They said they will transfer the file to the Director of Public Prosecution for further directions.

Magistrate Odhiambo allowed the prosecution to close the file and released the suspects.

The prosecution accused the suspects of obstructing the police officers from performance of duty by "giving false information to a person employed by Public Service Commission," contrary to section 129(a) of the penal code.

The police also said there was likelihood of the suspects to interfering with investigations and that a key suspect connected to investigations - Punjani - is still at large.

Police also wanted to complete investigations by recording statements from the suspects by getting a Nepalese and Indian interpreter.

A Magistrate Court on Tuesday released a Mombasa Member of County Assembly arrested on allegations of drug trafficking.

Ahmed Salama, the Bofu Ward MCA in Likoni Contituency, was among 17 individuals arrested separately during police crackdown on narcotics earlier in the week.

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