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Tension as police arrest 83 over hotel ownership dispute

Thursday March 12 2020

Watamu hotel invasion suspects

Some of the 83 people arrested for allegedly invading Temple Point Resort in Watamu when they appeared in a Malindi court on March 11, 2020. They will be detained for four days to allow police to complete investigations. PHOTO | CHARLES LWANGA |NATION MEDIA GROUP  

CHARLES LWANGA
By CHARLES LWANGA
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Police in Watamu on Wednesday evening arrested 83 people, among them two foreigners and Temple Point Resort employees, following a hotel ownership dispute between a German, a Kenyan and an Italian investor.

The hotel has been renamed Salama Beach Resort after a Kenyan – Mr Isaac Rodrot – and his Italian counterpart Stefano Uccelli, took over ownership last month from Mr Hans Jurgen Langer, a German.

Mr Ian Langer, the son of the German investor, and Mr Mathia Schimiot, also a foreigner and a swimming pool instructor at Temple Point Resort,

and waiters were among the 83 people arrested.

SUSPECTS DETAINED

Malindi Chief Magistrate William Chepseba on Wednesday directed that the suspects be detained at Malindi and Watamu police stations for four days to allow officers to complete investigations.

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Earlier, police had sought to detain them for 14 days, saying they are investigating a case of robbery with violence at the hotel which is currently under the management of Mr Rodrot and Mr Uccelli.

Constable Cavin Otieno, the investigation officer from the Directorate of Criminal Investigation, had told the court that the suspects were arrested after invading Temple Point Resort while armed with bows, arrows and slashers.

VICTIMS HOSPITALISED

“Other suspects who escaped are still at large and may collude with the arrested suspects if released on bond. Some victims have been hospitalised and could not record statement,” he said.

Mr Otieno further said that two of the suspects are foreigners and might escape if released on bail.

Ms Agather Mkongo, the prosecuting counsel, said the suspects were arrested at around midnight and police could not complete investigations within 24 hours.

“Suspects who escaped on motorbikes and boats after invading the hotel are still on the run. The 14 days will help police arrest more suspects and compile a report from those hospitalised,” she said.

THROWN INTO SEA

Mr Stephen Kibuja, who is representing the current management of the hotel, told the court that one of their employees, who was allegedly thrown into the sea during the skirmishes, is yet to be traced.

According to court documents seen by the Nation, police have already prepared charge sheets accusing some of the 83 suspects of stealing Sh170,000 in cash, a laptop and assorted items from Mr Charo Jefwa, an employee of the hotel.

But lawyers Geoffrey Katsole and Conrad Atiang’, who are representing the 83 suspects, opposed the application to have them remanded for 14 days, saying the move is aimed at intimidating the German investor following the ownership dispute.

COURT ORDER

“Some of the respondents were arrested while going to the hotel to [serve] a court order demanding [that] Mr Rodrot’s management [leaves and hands] over to our clients,” said Mr Katsole.

Mr Atiang’ said the prosecution did not give compelling reasons to warrant denial of bond. He added that the prosecution did not give the identities of the suspects alleged to be on the run.

“Only two of the respondents are foreigners, the rest are Kenyans with a permanent place of abode who are ready to cooperate with police if released on bail,” he said adding that the foreigners are well known as they have investments in the region.

The magistrate directed that the case be mentioned on Monday, March 16 for directions to be given.