Why Mombasa tycoon Ali Punjani will not return to Kenya soon

Wanted Mombasa tycoon Ali Badruddin Punjani’s is not returning home anytime soon.

Punjani’s lawyer Jared Magolo yesterday told The Standard that his client was not in a hurry to leave India where he is allegedly recovering from heart surgery.

Mr Magolo further said the tycoon was no longer keen to pursue an application in court for anticipatory bail to prevent his arrest when he flies back into the country.

Last month, Indian drug dealer Vijay Goswami - who agreed to become a State witness - told a New York court that Punjani was a leading drug lord in Kenya.

Goswami claimed Punjani, who has extensive investments throughout East Africa, was a rival of Baktash Akasha, who was jailed for 25 years, and his brother Ibrahim who will be sentenced in November.

Following the claims, Mombasa police raided Punjani’s home in Mombasa and carted away title deeds, cheque books, coins, electronic gadgets and personal documents, among other items.

The officers also said the tycoon would be arrested on his return to Kenya.

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Seized property

Punjani has since postponed his return on two occasions amid reports that Government officials suspect he intends to fly to either Addis Ababa, Entebbe or Dar es Salaam airports before sneaking into the country.

There are also claims Punjani, who has sued the State for seizing his property, could have delayed his return pending negotiations on terms of his surrender.

Magolo said his client was comfortable abroad as he recovers from heart surgery.

Last week, Lady Justice Farah Amin declined to grant Punjani’s request for anticipatory bail when Magolo appeared before with an ex parte application.

Justice Amin instead directed the file to be placed before the duty judge this week.

Senior Counsel in the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) David Fedha confirmed that they had been served, but said they had not responded because they were still consulting on whether to oppose the application.

The matter was supposed to come up for inter partes hearing on Monday but it failed to kick off after officials in the Mombasa Registry took the case file to the Malindi High Court on the assumption Justice Reuben Nyakundi would be sitting to handle cases filed under certificate of urgency.

When the file was received in Malindi, officials were told that Justice Nyakundi was on duty in Mombasa.

Mr Fedha told The Standard that the case file would be brought back to Mombasa today and placed before the judge.

He said Justice Nyakundi would only give guidance on when the DPP is supposed to respond to the application before setting a date for the hearing before all concerned parties.

“If the case comes up today, the judge will give us direction on how many days we are required to respond to Punjani’s application before the inter partes hearing date, which might be in two weeks to come.”

Magolo also confirmed that Punjani’s file was still in Malindi, but said he was not in a hurry to proceed with the hearing.

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Mombasa tycoon Ali Badruddin PunjaniAli Badruddin Punjani