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Covid-19: DPP wants 400 drums of ethanol at KPA released

Wednesday May 13 2020
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Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By BRIAN OCHARO

Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji will today move to court to seek for the release of 400 drums of ethanol being held at Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) warehouses to facilitate production of sanitisers to combat Covid-19.

Through Mombasa Assistant Director of Public Prosecution Alloys Kemo, the State will make the request before Chief Magistrate Edna Nyaloti because the items are exhibits in an ongoing criminal case.

"The drums are held at the KPA warehouse. They are exhibits in a case. I will be hearing the application," the magistrate who is also the head of Mombasa station said.

The magistrate said the DPP had filed the application but was directed to notify other parties in the case since the matter is still being prosecuted.

The drums of ethanol worth Sh7.3 million that the State wants released are exhibits in a criminal case facing a government employee and businessmen.

Following the seizure of the cargo at 11 container freight stations (CFSs), eight individuals were arrested and charged in court with false declaration of goods and denying the government revenue.

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Those arrested were charged with false declaration of the 400 drums of ethanol at the port on February 10,2016.

They include Mary Gathemia and Pius Kinyua.

The State charged them alongside revenue officer Hillary Bett and a third businessman with conspiracy to deny the government revenue and importing a restricted commodity (ethanol).

The DPP has alleged that the suspects imported 400 drums of ethanol worth Sh7.3 million, which they falsely declared as base oil.

The suspects also faced another charge of conspiracy to conceal 800 drums of ethanol packed in five containers.

However ,some of these suspects have been acquitted while some have been placed on their defence. The criminal case is still pending before the court at defence stage.

The suspects are among the Kenya Ports Authority and KRA employees who were investigated on suspicion of handling the documentation related to the contraband goods that left the Mombasa port for the CFSs between November 2016 and January 28,2017.

The application for the release of the 400 drums of ethanol comes after the Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua directed members of a multi-agency team to urgently identify all ethanol held under any offences at various ports of entry and custom areas for mass production of sanitisers.

The ethanol is supposed to be released to the Kenya Pipeline Company for the production of the hand sanitisers which will be distributed to the public for free to combat the spread of coronavirus.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has recommended the use of alcohol-based sanitisers as a method of preventing the spread of Covid-19 that has infected over a million people and killed thousands across the globe.

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