Nock officials released on bail after appearing in court
The police have been given three weeks to complete investigations into the allegations that three National Olympic Committee of Kenya (Nock) officials might have contributed to loss of funds, kits and general mismanagement of Team Kenya during the Rio Olympic Games in Brazil.
The three officials, Team Kenya’s Head of Delegation Stephen arap Soi, Nock Secretary General, Francis Paul Kanyili and Team Kenya General Manager Pius Ochieng were on Monday released on a cash bail of Sh200,000 each pending conclusion of investigations. Their case will be mentioned on September 19.
The lawyer representing Mr Soi however told the court that his client was unable to attend court because he had been taken ill and admitted at a Nairobi hospital. Mr Soi will be arraigned in court on Wednesday afternoon.
Magistrate Charity Oluoch however directed that Mr Kanyili and Mr Ochieng must meet certain bond term conditions so as not to interfere with ongoing inquiry.
In her ruling, the magistrate ordered the suspects to deposit their passports in court and to report twice a week to the Directorate of Criminal Investigation.
They were also directed not to move out of the country without the court’s permission, not to contact any witness in the ongoing investigations and not to appear at the Nock offices or come into contact with any Nock-owned facility.
“The accused should refrain from interfering with the investigations, including contacting witnesses or appearing at the Nock premises. They must also not leave the jurisdiction of this country,” ordered Magistrate Oluoch.
In his application, Prosecutor Duncan Ondimu had sought orders to detain the three for 21 days saying the accused were likely to interfere with the investigations owing to the influential position they hold within the sports body.
Mr Soi and Mr Kanyili were arrested last Friday while Ochieng was arrested on Sunday in connection with the administrative goofs in Rio as well as the loss of Nike kits that were donated to the team by the apparel manufacturer.
The prosecutor said that following the raid that was conducted at Nock headquarters, the 2000 Plaza, along Mombasa Road last Friday, a number of items were seized including computers (hard disk), several documents related to the Rio Olympic Games and kits which are believed to have been meant for Team Kenyan to the Ro Games.
The prosecutor however added that the computers seized are yet to be submitted for a detailed forensic examination and results thereof obtained.
In calling for detention of the suspects, the prosecutor argued that investigators will require to travel to a number of towns within the country to conduct investigations and record witness statements.
The investigation will be widened to cover the day of the national trials, the residential training, and upto the manner in which the Kenyan team was managed to enable a determination if there was criminal culpability against the three and other persons who are at large.
“A number of officials of Nock are not yet back in the country, and this includes the chairperson Kipchoge Keino, and there is need for him to shed light on what happened before, during and after the Rio 2016 Olympic Gems,” prosecutor Mr Ondimu said.
“The investigation being conducted involve the reputation of sports, management of sports in the country and the reputation of the country as a sporting giant. This Honorable Court must jealously guard the sports fraternity.”
However, when they rose, the respondents’ lawyers led by Julius Kitheka, who is representing Mr Kanyili, tore into the prosecutor’s application accusing him of not acting in good faith.
“We oppose the application (to detain the accused) because there is no good faith. It denies the alleged suspects freedom for 21 days on mere allegations,” Mr Kitheka argued.
“There is no iota of evidence that my client is in a position to interfere with evidence. The prosecution and the investigation officer are not acting in good faith. This is an abuse of the court process which the court must frown upon. It (the accusations) is based on conjecture but not any criminal activity on the part of the second respondent (FK Paul),” he further submitted.
Mr Ochieng’s lawyer, Mr Edward Atiang Rombo also argued that the prosecutor was upto no good pleading with the court to grant his client a bail.
“The investigating team want to lock the respondents so that they can go on with their fishy expedition. Under the constitution it’s clear that the court can only deny bail where there is compelling reasons. I find this application has no merit,” Mr Rombo argued.
The arrest of Nock’s top brass and their arraignment in court came barely days after President Uhuru Kenyatta said that the government will clamp down in erring officials saying that no stone will be left unturned.
Despite Kenya posted her best performance ever at the Olympics bagging 13 medals (six gold, six silver and a bronze medal) there has been a public outcry over the ill treatment of Kenyan athletes by Nock during the Rio Games.