Four Kenyans released from South Sudan jail expected home today

Wednesday December 6 2017

Anthony Keya Munialo.

Anthony Keya Munialo, one of the four Kenyans who had been jailed in South Sudan. PHOTO | COURTESY 

By FRED MUKINDA
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Four Kenyans jailed for life in South Sudan were freed following talks between Presidents Uhuru Kenyatta and Salva Kiir are scheduled to land in Kenya on Wednesday accompanied by Foreign ministry officials.

The plane carrying them is expected at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.

JAILED

Thereafter the four will undergo debriefing by government officials before being allowed to reunite with their families.

The ministry is also expected to officially give details of the matter thereafter.

Mr Anthony Mwadime, Mr Ravi Ramesh, Mr Boniface Muriuki and Mr Anthony Keya were sentenced to life imprisonment for embezzlement of government funds.

The four Kenyans were in a group — including 12 South Sudan nationals — who were cumulatively jailed for 67 years.

Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Monica Juma travelled to South Sudan to receive the Kenyans.

‘UNFAIR HEARING’

At the time they were sentenced, Kenya and South Sudan did not have a prisoner exchange or extradition arrangement.

The families of the four had appealed to the government and the United Nations Human Rights Council to intervene.

They complained the four were not given a fair hearing.

Their families also said the sentences were harsh and that they were proxy victims of business wars between rivals, one of whom was their employer, for lucrative government tenders.

‘SWINDLED STATE’

One of the South Sudanese sentenced is businessman John Agou, who was a senior security officer in President Kiir’s office, and his wife Anyeth Chat Bol.

The two founded the business Click Technologies, which supplied electronic items to the Juba government and employed the four Kenyans.

Mr Agou, the court found, conspired with his employees to swindle the Office of the President and other ministries, by receiving payments for goods that were not delivered.

In addition, he was found guilty of forging a presidential seal in an attempt to withdraw the funds from the Central Bank.

ORDERS

The accused were arrested in May last year, detained without charge for several months and later charged with stealing $14 million (Sh1.4 billion) from the Office of the President through forgery.

The court on June 13 ruled that their laptops, mobile phones, flash disks, CDs and used car tyres be seized, emptied and sold to recover the stolen money.

This directive is among a list of harsh orders made by South Sudanese High Court Judge Lado Arminto Sikot when he handed down the sentence.

PRESSURE

The detention of Kenyans caused a stir in the country as government officials were put under pressure to ensure they were released.

But Foreign Ministry officials at the time argued they would not interfere with the justice system of another country.