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No bail for 37 Chinese nationals facing cyber crime charges in Kenya

COUNTIES
By Fred Makana | Jan 14th 2015 | 2 min read
37 Chinese Nationals at the Milimani Law Courts after they were denied bail. [PHOTO: FIDELIS KABUNYI].

KENYA: A Nairobi court has declined to release on bail 37 Chinese nationals accused of operating an illegal cyber-hub pending the hearing and determination of their case.

Milimani Senior Principal Magistrate Enock Cherono said the prosecution had given compelling reasons for the suspects to remain in remand at Industrial Area and Lang'ata prisons until Tuesday next week when the trial begins.

"After listening to both the prosecution and defence's submissions, it is clear there are compelling reasons why the accused should not be released on bail.

Whereas bond is a constitutional right irrespective of one's nationality, it is not absolute especially after the prosecution gave compelling reasons why the accused should not be admitted to bail," Cherono ruled.

They face charges of using radio communication apparatus and providing telecommunications services without a licence.

China's Foreign Affairs Minister Wang Yi had asked for the extradition of the suspects.

CAUGHT FIRE

The 37 were part of the 77 arrested in Nairobi's Runda estate on December 2 when a house they had rented caught fire and killed one of them.

He said the court also took into consideration the fact that their former landlady, Margret Kairu,  has since terminated their tenancy lease.

"The accused are foreign nationals who occupied the house in which the first accused was the tenant before they were arrested. However, as we speak the court is aware that they have no fixed abode after the owner terminated the lease. In order to guarantee their attendance in court the accused persons must demonstrate how they can be traced in case they do not appear in court," he said.

He also said the accused ought to have indicated to the court that they know someone within the country as a form of surety that they could attend the hearing.

Cherono further ruled that the suspects could only be admitted to bond if they owned a business with assets, which they would lose if they were to leave the country before the trial was completed.

"The defence has not laid before court any of the said principles in their submissions. The defence lawyer only argued that the accused have valid passports and visas and yet none of the said items have been presented in court. This in my view strengthens the prosecution's argument that the suspects are a flight risk and for these reasons I disallow the application," the magistrate ruled.

The hearing was to commence Tuesday but the prosecutor requested for more time.

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