Thursday, August 6, 2009

Court rejects plea to detain journalist

Swedish journalist Prince Hassan Saad at the chief magistrate court's dock, where he was charged with making a document without authority. Photo/PAUL WAWERU

Swedish journalist Prince Hassan Saad at the chief magistrate court's dock, where he was charged with making a document without authority. Photo/PAUL WAWERU  

By SAM KIPLAGAT

A city magistrate has rejected a plea by the police to detain a Swedish journalist suspected of terrorism activities.

The journalist, Prince Hassan Saad alias Nakanishi Kenji, is in Kenya to cover the African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa) conference in Nairobi, which ends Thursday.

He was arrested on August 5 together with Philip Mwembi Navasilwa, a media executive with Gina Din Corporate Communications. Gina Din was in charge of accreditation of journalists covering the event.

When they appeared on Thursday before chief magistrate Gilbert Mutembei, facing charges of making an accreditation card without authority, the prosecution said that they were likely to prefer more charges against them.

The prosecutor, Superintendent Onesmus Towett, told the court that the police needed at least five days to complete their investigations. He said the police were yet to establish why they forged the card.

“We do not know what their motives were since they were arrested trying to access the conference,” he said.

The application was, however, opposed by his lawyer Donald Kipkorir who said that the charge he was facing was bailable and the police must have completed the investigations before arraigning him.

Mr Mutembei agreed with Mr Kipkorir saying the police were free to arrest the journalist and his co-accused and prefer fresh charges in relation to terrorism on them.

Other than making the card without authority, Mr Saad was faced with another count of uttering a false document. It is alleged that the he uttered the registration card in the names of Nakanishi Kenji to a police officer attached to Anti-Terrorism Police Unit.

The police say that Saad presented the registration card purporting to have been issued by Xerox Kenya Ltd.

The two were released after parting with cash bail of Sh50,000 each. The case will be heard on September 3.

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