Court grants Sh3m bond to man in Sh109m ivory haul

Thursday January 12 2017

Ephantus Gitonga Mbare when he appeared in

Ephantus Gitonga Mbare when he appeared in court on December 23, 2016 charged with handling 335 pieces of ivory valued at Sh109,000 intended for export to Cambodia. Mombasa Senior Principal Magistrate Francis Kyambia has released him on a Sh3 million bond with one surety. PHOTO | LABAN WALLOGA | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By BRIAN OCHARO
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A clearing and forwarding agent facing charges related to an ivory haul estimated to be valued at Sh109 million has been released on a Sh3 million bond with one surety of the same amount.

Mombasa Senior Principal Magistrate Francis Kyambia granted Ephantus Gitonga Mbare bond after prosecutors failed to provide convincing reasons to deny him bail.

But prosecutors did not object to the magistrate’s ruling despite earlier opposing bail.

Mr Mbare is accused of dealing in ivory without a licence from the Kenya Wildlife Service.

He is accused, alongside others not in court, of dealing in 335 pieces of ivory weighing 1,097 kilogrammes.

He is said to have committed the offence between October 6 and December 21, 2016 between the Malaba border point and the Mombasa port.

IN TRANSIT TO CAMBODIA

The consignment, which was seized at the port, was found in two containers ready for export to Cambodia.

Senior Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions Alexander Muteti had asked the court to deny the accused bond, saying investigations were incomplete.

Mr Muteti had argued the offence Mr Mbare is accused of committing is trans-national, and investigations involve a multi-agency team drawn from Uganda, Cambodia and Thailand.

But Mr Mbare’s lawyer, Grace Akumu, asked the court to disregard prosecutors' arguments and instead grant the suspect reasonable bond terms with an alternative of cash bail.

She maintained that her client was presumed innocent until proved guilty.

The case will be mentioned on February 2.