|FROM LEFT: Geoffrey Mutune, Fredrick Mbuta, Geoffrey Osumba and Joash Jagero at the Milimani law courts yesterday where they together with five others denied charges of kidnapping 14-year-old twins Abhita Kaur Mahjan and Ahwal Kaur Mahjan on October 3 at Brookside Groove in Westlands, Nairobi. [PHOTO: EVANS HABIL/STANDARD]|
By FRED MAKANA
NAIROBI; KENYA: Nine men were Wednesday arraigned in court in connection with the kidnapping of 14-year-old twin girls from Nairobi’s Westlands area.
Joash Opiyo Jagero, Geoffrey Obwaka Osumba, Fredrick Kyumwa Mbuta, Geoffrey Muia Mutune, Clifford Okoth Ongugo, Patrick Mwendwa Musili, Francis Luseka Ilondanga, Mark Stevene Oduk and Gabriel Otema Otieno appeared before Nairobi Magistrate Ellena Nderitu to answer two counts of kidnapping with intent to confine, contrary to Section 259 of the Penal Code.
State Counsel Mary Wange’le told the court that the accused, jointly with others, on October 3 at Brookside along Grivellia in Westlands within Nairobi County with intent to secretly and wrongfully confine, kidnapped 14-year-olds Ahmal Kaur Mahjan and Abhita Kaur Mahjan.
An earlier attempt by the magistrate to release the accused on a cash bail of Sh1 million was strongly opposed by the state counsel on grounds that police had not completed their investigations.
“The two minors have not recorded statements because they are still in shock and above all the seriousness of this case does not warrant bail terms at this stage,” the state counsel argued.
The prosecution also argued that the accused were arrested at the scene of crime, which needed to be taken into consideration before they are admitted to bail.
“Some of the kidnappers are being profiled to establish if they are involved in other criminal offences or if they are associated with other kidnappings in Nairobi and other parts of the country,” Wange’le stated.
She further argued that if the accused are released, they were likely to interfere with witnesses in other related cases in which they are being probed.
Ms Wange’le cited the first accused in the case as a serial offender who is facing other cases in various courts. She requested the court to remand the accused pending the determination of their case.
However, the accused’s lawyer Cliff Ombeta opposed the prosecution’s request, arguing that such a move was unconstitutional as his clients were entitled to bail terms.
“The assumption is that once the accused are in custody nothing can stop police from collecting evidence,” Ombeta said.
However, the accused, who included a former police officer, pleaded not guilty to the charges and were granted a cash bail of Sh2 million each and a surety of similar amount. The magistrate directed the case to be heard on November 2 and a mention slated for October 30.
The twins were rescued on Monday night during a security operation by officers from Flying Squad, Special Crimes Prevention Unit and Criminal Intelligence Unit who raided a house in Upper Matasia, Ngong. The kidnappers had been demanding a ransom of Sh86 million, but reduced it to Sh20 million and later Sh17 million.