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Court frees doctor accused of selling fake Covid testing kits

 Dr Pravan Pancholi, a cosmetic surgeon and the CEO of Avane Cosmetic Clinics. [Wilberforce Okwiri, Standard]

A doctor accused of advertising fake Covid-19 testing kits has been acquitted after the Director of Public Prosecution dropped the charges.

Milimani Senior Resident Magistrate Muthoni Njagi set free Dr Pravan Pancholi, the proprietor of Avane Clinic in Nairobi, and his employee Ndinda Kaleve after the prosecution said they will not proceed with the trial.

"The court allows the application to terminate the case and orders that the charges against all the accused be marked as withdrawn under Section 87A Criminal Procedure Code. They are set at liberty unless lawfully held and their cash bails deposited be refunded to them," ruled Njagi.

The magistrate ruled that since the DPP had dropped the charges against Dr Pancholi and Ms Kaleve, the court had no choice but to terminate the trial and close the file.

Dr Pancholi and Kaleve were charged in 2020 with two counts of advertising fake Covid-19 test kits and operating a medical institution without a licence.

However, the prosecution withdrew the case after Pancholi's lawyer Andrew Muge argued that there was no evidence to support the charges levelled against the accused persons.

The prosecution agreed with the application by the lawyer that prosecution of the doctor would not result in a conviction and decided to withdraw the charges.

In the said advertisement, Dr Pancholi's clinic had stated that they were offering used coronavirus testing kits for Sh600 apiece and even provided a till number through which payment for the kits could be channelled.

It also claimed that the facility would provide medical attention for infected patients which raised alarm resulting to action by the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Council.

KMPDC raided the clinic offices in Yaya Centre following a social media advertisement, fined the doctor Sh500,000, suspended his license and ordered the clinic closed.

Dr Pancholi's medical license was however reinstated by KMPDC after the six months of suspension elapsed.

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