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Asian hacking suspects’ case hit by translator hitch

The 37 Asians arrested for allegedly operating a radio station without a licence will be charged on Wednesday, a court has ruled.

The 13 Chinese nationals, 23 Taiwanese and a Thai would have been charged on Monday but lack of translators forced Senior Principle Magistrate Lucy Mbugua to push the plea taking to Wednesday.

Prosecutor Duncan Ondimu requested the postponement after a translator who had been contacted failed to turn up.

ACCUSED VULNERABLE

Also, the fact that the prosecution requires more than one translator because of the different nationalities of the accused had complicated the case, said Mr Ondimu.

“The court could not merely consider that the accused are vulnerable. It cannot also look at how they entered the country to charge them. It has to factor in the presence of interpreters so that the accused can understand the accusations levelled against them,” explained Mr Ondimu.

When the lawyer representing the Chinese and Taiwanese, Mr Tom Wachakana, said that the suspects were being held under poor conditions, Mr Ondimu said: “The suspects are being detained at the most prestigious remand in the country, equipped with the best toilet facilities, situated in the most secure locality.”

The magistrate agreed with the prosecution that the case needs translators.

“Proceedings must be conducted in a language understood by the suspects and therefore, a chief officer will appoint a translator. The court therefore defers this plea to December 10, until a Chinese, Taiwan and Thailand interpreters are availed,” said Ms Mbugua.

Mr Wachakana said the suspects should be released on bond pending trial since investigations had proved their nationalities and that they were in the country legally.

“The Parklands DCIO confirmed yesterday (Sunday) they have valid travelling documents, five days were good enough to detain them. The conditions at the remand are not proper for them, especially the young women amongst them,” said Mr Wachakana.

ISSUE RULING

At the same time, High Court Judge Luka Kimaru declined to issue a ruling on whether the suspects should be released on bond.

Mr Justice Kimaru said it would be improper to issue such a ruling when the accused had not even been charged.

He said he would give his ruling on Thursday morning after they are charged.

The judge also directed that the prosecution should ensure 40 other suspects detained at the Gigiri Police Station are charged on Thursday to enable him rule on whether to release them on bond on that day.

At least 77 foreigners were arrested in different groups on the same day.