Artur brother claims Kibaki knew about 'The Standard' raid

By Kipchumba Some

One of the two infamous Armenian Artur brothers who commandeered The Standard Group raid in 2006 has for the first time directly implicated President Kibaki.

But in a quick rejoinder, State House denied the claims.

"There are desperate attempts by certain persons to seek relevance and association with State House. These attempts will not succeed," read a statement from PPS.

Artur Margaryan claimed the President and other top Government officials knew about the shocking attack.

Speaking to The Standard on Saturday from Qatar, Margaryan claimed he and his brother Artur Sargasyan carried out the raid soon after a State House meeting on March 2, 2006.

He further claimed he is still holding five computers belonging to the Standard Group in his house in Sri Lanka and was ready to return them.

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Asked whether President Kibaki knew of the operation, he answered: "Of course, of course."

He said the raid was decided in a State House meeting, which had been convened following an article carried by The Standard on a secret meeting between President Kibaki and Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka, who was then in opposition.

He added: "The President was very upset about the story and said they (The Standard) have to be punished. He insisted it was all lies and repeated that The Standard had to be punished."

Margaryan said the security and intelligence chiefs present at the meeting claimed the Standard Group was about to publish another story that would further damage the President’s reputation.

"That evening Mr Joseph Kamau (former CID boss) called me and told me they had decided to raid The Standard and KTN and take their computers and that they were requesting me to execute the plan," he said.

He claimed current director of the National Security Intelligence Service Michael Gichangi, Kamau of CID and then Internal Security Minister John Michuki were present at the State House meeting.

He also said although former Police Commissioner Hussein Ali was aware of the plan, he did not play an active role in its execution.

"He was kept away because he had his business on the side and no one trusted him," he said without elaborating.

To carry out his mandate, he says, he was given two security IDs-one identifying him as a deputy commissioner of police and the other as the chief of the Quick Response Unit, which is mainly composed of officers from the now disbanded Kanga squad.Initially, he says, the Government had approached him and his brother to form a special police squad. "After assessing the quality of the police force, I advised them it is not possible to form a special squad, only a unit," he claims.

Margaryan says he is ready to spill the beans on the whole affair in whatever law court or inquiry on the raid. "I have CCTV and audio recordings of conversations with the President and other Government officials," he said.

Armed with assault rifles and clad in black balaclavas, their brief was simple: Raid the Standard Group, find the article and close KTN and The Standard newspapers. After the raid, he went on, police were supposed to guard the premises the whole night and day while the license for newspaper and TV station were to be revoked.

But after the national hue and cry the raid raised and the failure to secure support of the then Information and Communications Minister Mutahi Kagwe, he says, "the Government got scared and everything went bad for them."

He says he took the confiscated computers to his rented house in Runda where he checked and found "a very bad" article, which he, however, declined to disclose its contents to us. He claims he then took the computer to KICC’s office of Government Spokesman Alfred Mutua who "congratulated me for the good work."

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