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Saburi seeks identities of 239 passengers on Chinese plane

By Joackim Bwana | April 17th 2020
Kilifi Deputy Governor Gideon Saburi at a Mombasa court on Wednesday. [Kelvin Karani, Standard]

Kilifi Deputy Governor Gideon Saburi, who was released on bail yesterday, wants the State to reveal the identities of the 239 passengers who flew in from China on February 25.

Mr Saburi is also seeking information on where the passengers were quarantined after they landed.

The governor wants to use the information in his defence against a charge of spreading the coronavirus. He denied the charge when he appeared in court.

The State, on the other hand, has asked for the manifest of the Turkish flight Saburi used to enter Kenya in early March.

The State is seeking the manifest to demonstrate that Saburi flew in from Covid-19 stricken Germany.

Both applications will be heard when the trial court sits on May 5 for pretrial hearings.

The deputy governor was ordered into 14 days of self-quarantine at his home after being granted a Sh500,000 cash bail by a Mombasa court.

To secure the identities, Saburi applied for the flight manifest of China Southern Airline that landed at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport with 239 passengers.

Saburi was yesterday ordered to surrender his passport to the court and warned that his bond could be cancelled if he contacted any prosecution witness, some of who are Kilifi County Government employees.

The arrival of the plane at a time when Kenya had suspended flights to China  sparked public outrage.

Yesterday, Saburi, through his lawyers George Kithi and Clifford Tolo applied to have the prosecution, produce the plane’s manifest with the names of all the passengers who arrived aboard the Chinese plane on February 25.

Airline’s manifest

Saburi’s lawyers said the airline’s manifest and where the passengers were quarantined was key in his defence during trial.

“We want the identities of (those on) the China Southern flight that landed on February 25, 2020, carrying 239 passengers, and where they were quarantined,” said Mr Kithi.

While making the application, Kithi said the prosecution had applied to have a manifest of the Turkish Airline that Saburi had boarded back to Kenya as part of their evidence.

“Our client is accused of failing to self-quarantine and our application is not dissimilar to the case regarding the Chinese flight,” said Kithi.

He made the application shortly after Saburi was released on bail and directed to self-quarantine at his home in Mombasa and also surrender his passport.

On Wednesday, State prosecutor Alloys Kemo applied to have Saburi detained for 10 more days over claims he had infected his driver and others who are still in quarantine with Covid-19. This application collapsed yesterday when the magistrate freed Saburi pending trial on condition the DG embarks on a second round of isolation.

Was arrested

Saburi had been held at Port Police Station since April 3 when he was arrested after leaving quarantine at Coast General Hospital where he was taken in late March after allegations that he had declined to go into isolation after arriving from Germany, in breach of State orders. He was charged on April 9 with exposing the public to an infectious disease by failing to go into quarantine after returning from Germany.

On Wednesday, Kithi said that Saburi has never tested positive for the virus and challenged the validity of an unsigned and undated report from the Kenya Medical Research Institute in Kilifi confirming a positive result.

Kemo had tabled the Kemri report in court in compliance with an April 9 court order when the magistrate said she needed it to determine Saburi’s bail application.

Covid 19 Time Series


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