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Chinese suspects face fresh charge

The State has added an organised crime charge against 37 Chinese charged with operating a high-end telecommunications system in Nairobi.

Prosecutor Duncan Ondimu on Monday told the Chief Magistrate’s Court that the additional charge facing the accused is serious and warned against granting them bond.

He said some of their accomplices escaped a police dragnet last December in Runda estate in Nairobi and urged the court to detain those in custody to help  with investigations.

“The items seized from the house of the accused are mainly in Mandarin (Chinese language) and this necessitated an inter-governmental effort to help us find out what is contained in them,” said Mr Ondimu.

The prosecutor said the investigations are complex and incomplete.

The suspects are believed to be part of a wider cybercrime and fraud network involved in money laundering and hacking of computer software, according to investigators.

SERIOUS OFFENCES

“It is our contention that these are serious offences, which relate to telecommunication… are the basis of commission of many offences, including terrorism,” said Mr Ondimu.

The suspects have been charged with operating an unlicensed telecommunications system, contrary to the Communications Commission Act.

The prosecutor said the offences cannot be “taken lightly” despite the sentence being a three-year jail term.

A lawyer appearing for the suspects had renewed a request for their release on bail on grounds that they were entitled to the presumption of innocence.

Mr Macharia Nderitu said the accusations the suspects face are not comparable to a capital offence.

He asked the court to consider the nature of the offence and the gravity of punishment in the case they are facing.