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Human trafficking probe: CS Echesa on spot over Pakistani girls

Friday January 4 2019

Sports Cabinet Secretary Rashid Echesa

Former Sports, Heritage and Culture Cabinet Secretary Rashid Echesa. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

RICHARD MUNGUTI
By RICHARD MUNGUTI
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A magistrate has ordered eight girls from Pakistan flown into the country as cultural dancers be kept in a safe house to enable police establish whether they are victims of human trafficking.

Senior Principal Magistrate Kennedy Cheruiyot, sitting at the Milimani Law Courts, gave the order after being furnished with special permits issued to the eight foreign girls by Culture Cabinet Secretary Rashid Echesa.

LEGAL STAY

Defence lawyer Evans Ondieki told Mr Cheruiyot that the eight girls, who were arrested at Balle Balle Club at Parklands on January 1, “are in the country legally with the full permission of CS Echesa".

Mr Ondieki said the cultural dancers were allowed to enter into the country by Mr Echesa to promote trans-national cultures.

The lawyer pleaded with the magistrate to release the girls to be detained in a safe house where police can access them whenever they want as they investigate the owner of the club, who flew them into Kenya.

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“On humanitarian grounds, I urge this court to release these girls as they have not bathed for the last one week, health rules require women to fresh up and bath as many times as they can afford,” Mr Ondieki told the magistrate.

SPECIAL PASSES

The lawyer further said it was regretful that police were stifling Mr Echesa's order that allowed the girls to perform in Kenya up to January 18.

He said each of them paid the Immigration Department Sh45,000 to be issued with special passes.

“What government are the police serving and what government is Mr Echesa serving? Aren’t they serving the same regime?" Mr Ondieki wondered.

"Are police struggling to implement the directive of Mr Echesa?"

He prevailed upon the court to release the girls to Mr Nadeem Khan of Blue Heart, a non-governmental organisation against Human trafficking, Violence and Child Abuse, to place them in a safe house where “only him and police can access them for interrogation.”

The eight were released on a free bond.

Human trafficking suspects Mika Osichiro, Safendra Kumar Sonwani

Mika Osichiro and Safendra Kumar Sonwani face Senior Principal Magistrate Kennedy Cheruiyot over the alleged trafficking of eight Pakistani girls, January 4, 2019. PHOTO | RICHARD MUNGUTI | NATION MEDIA GROUP

COURT APPEARANCE

Although their release had been opposed vehemently by State prosecutor Annette Wangia, the magistrate released the girls, who are suspected to be victims of human trafficking, to Mr Khan on humanitarian grounds with orders that only police from the trans-national crimes desk can access them.

The magistrate directed them to appear in court on January 8, when the proprietor of Bella Bella Club, Mr Safendra Kumar Sonwani, and his manager Mr Mika Osichiro, will be arraigned for prosecution on human trafficking charges.

Mr Sonwani and Mr Osichiro were detained on Monday for interrogation for “irregularly trafficking into the country the said eight girls”.

Police asked for more time to look into the allegation against them and to check the girls' travel documents.

Mr Ondieki has asked the court to disregard police fears, saying CS Echesa has allowed cultural promotions, which is permitted in the Constitution.

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