KAKAMEGA, KENYA: An ambassador has been charged in a Kakamega court with forgery of land transfer documents.
Ambeyi Ligabo, the Kenyan Ambassador of Good Governance and Democracy to the Great Lakes, was charged with four counts of forgery.
According to the charge sheet, Ambeyi forged the documents on or before August 18, 2008, purporting them to be genuine transfer for two acres signed by his brother Machanja Ligabo.
He is further alleged to have produced the forged land transfer documents at the Lands Registry in Kakamega town.
According to the Investigating Officer, Mr Peter Maritime, the land measuring two acres (ISUKHA/ILEHO/1499) is the property of Machanja, his elder brother, whose signature was forged.
By the time of the forgery, the complainant (Machanja), a former civil servant, is said to have been outside the country.
Ambeyi denied all the charges before Chief Magistrate Bildad Ochieng’.
In court, Ambeyi’s profession became the centre of controversy after the prosecution said it had not been furnished with any documents to show the accused was an envoy.
State Prosecutor Samson Kiprotich told the court the accused had been on the run since the Director of Public Prosecutions preferred the charges against him two years ago.
“We are not opposed to the application for bond but since the accused is a flight risk, he should provide the necessary documents to the court so he can be traced in case he disappears again,” said Mr Kiprotich.
Kiprotich added that the prosecution was forced to withdraw the case against Ambeyi due to his disappearance, but there has been a pending arrest warrant against him.
“It has been difficult tracing the accused and if released on bond, we need to have travel documents so that the prosecution is not forced to withdraw the case again,” he said.
Through lawyers Gilbert Imbenzi and Jack Khayumbi, Ambeyi told the court that the prosecution would have acquired information about his whereabouts through Government agencies.
“The prosecution would have liaised with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs if indeed they were determined to look for him to open a case against him,” said Mr Khayumbi.
He said Ambeyi, who is based in Bujumbura, Burundi, was not arrested but voluntarily presented himself to the police.
The lawyer complained that Ambeyi was illegally held in police cells.
“On arrival at Kakamega Police Station he was detained without being told the reason for his detention. This is infringement of Article 49 of the Constitution of Kenya and we pray that the plea be deferred,” said Imbenzi. Ambeyi was detained for six hours.
However, the magistrate said the accused is only given access to prosecution documents and information pertaining to detention after a court order, usually after taking plea.
“The accused is granted a Sh200,000 bond with a surety of similar amount. He is to provide the relevant documents of appointment for his job by September 14 when the matter will be mentioned,” said Ochieng’.