Police have 24 hours to charge or release Punjani's wife, four others

Suspects arrested at businessman Ali Punjani's home. From left: Lucy Njeri Njane, Bonface Maelo, Karki Sushmita, Bashyal Shiva Prasad and Ram Manoj at the Shanzu Law Courts in Mombasa on Wednesday. (Kelvin Karani, Standard)
Police in Mombasa have been given 24 hours to either charge Karki Sushmita, the wife of the wanted tycoon Ali Punjani and four others or release them unconditionally.

Sushmita, her nephew Bashyal Shiva Prasad, his Indian friend Ram Manoj and two of their workers Lucy Njeri Njane and Bonface Maelo were arrested on Tuesday at Punjani’s homestead in Nyali.

Police had yesterday wanted court to allow them detain the five for seven days pending investigations into the alleged links to drug trafficking.

However, Shanzu Law courts Senior Resident Magistrate David Odhiambo declined to grant police their prayer.

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“Police have not given any reason as to why they will want to detain the respondents. They have 24 hours until 4PM to charge them or release them unconditionally,” said Odhiambo.

In their application, police had said that Punjani’ family was one of the families linked to drug trafficking in Coast region and that releasing her wife would compromise the investigations.

However, Punjani’s lawyer Asige said that police were just maliciously accusing his clients and they lacked evidence.

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He said that police had found no narcotics at Punjani’s homestead despite the 12-hour search with sniffer dogs.

“I can confirm that police raided the home of Punjani without a warrant and proceeded to search the homestead and after 12 hours of searching, they found no narcotics. And they have not pressed any charges so far,” said Asige.

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Police accused the respondents of giving them false information, obstructing police from conducting investigations and being in possession of narcotic drugs.

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Ali PunjaniKarki SushmitaDrug Trafficking