Kenya Bureau of Standards Managing Director Charles Ongwae on Monday denied charges of attempted murder for importing fertilizer said to contain mercury.
Mr Ongwae and other officials, who also denied charges of abuse of office, commission of a felony and breach of trust, had to spend the night in remand as their lawyers began processing bonds to secure their release.
Those charged alongside Mr Ongwae were Mr Eric Chesire Kiptoo, the director of quality assurance at Kebs; Mr Peter Kinyanjui, the inspection manager at the Kilindini Port; Mr Martin Musyanya, the Kebs Coast regional manager; Mr Pole Mwangemi, the port health officer at Kilindini; Mr Erick Kariuki, the supervisor of customs at the Kenya Revenue Authority; and Mr Benson Oduor, a clearing agent with Bolloré Transport and Logistics Kenya Ltd.
The court heard that they unlawfully released to OCP (K) Ltd, 5,846,000 kgs of substandard compound fertiliser containing mercury, a substance that endangers human life. They allegedly committed the offence between November 13, 2017, and June 7, 2018.
PAY SH10 MILLION
Principal magistrate Kennedy Cheruiyot ordered each of the accused person pay a bond of Sh10 million each to secure their release. In addition, they are each expected to have a Sh3 million surety, plus an additional cash bail of Sh2 million.
Mr Cheruiyot said the offences are bailable and the prosecution had not tabled any evidence to show that they will interfere with witnesses during the ongoing investigations.
But opposing their release on bail, Prosecutor Alexander Muteti said the offences were serious and since they were senior officials at Kebs, they are likely to dissuade witnesses from testifying.
Mr Ongwae, Mr Kiptoo, Mr Kinyanjui, Mr Martin Nyakiamo, Mr Mwengemi and Mr Kariuki further denied charges of aiding the commission of a felony, abuse of office and breach of public trust. The court heard that the fertilizer was sold to people in Narok and Eldoret.
Meanwhile, Mr Ongwae, Mr Kiptoo, Mr Erick Ochieng’ Onyango, Mr Eric Kirui, Ms Catherine Bowen, Mr Robon Shake and Ms Rhoda Olesi Kirui denied the charge of conspiracy to defraud when they allegedly entered a contract with Madras Security Printers Private Ltd for the supply of ISM stickers worth Sh882 million.
The court heard that they knew that the company did not have the capacity for the task, when they signed the contract between December 9, 2014, and May 23, 2018.
The court order them to execute bond of Sh5 million each and surety of similar amount as well as cash bail of Sh 2 million in court.
The magistrate also ordered them to deposit their passports in court and not to make contacts with their juniors or access their offices unless accompanied by police or on orders of the court.
OBTAINING SH82 FROM KEBS
The directors OCP (K) ltd Malika Kirama and Younes Addou were not in court and the magistrate summoned them to appear.
It is alleged that the fertiliser did not meet the specifications of Kenyan standards, but they released them to the market, endangering the lives of Kenyans.
Similarly, the directors of Madras Security including Rajah Sunder Singh, Sam Prashad, Suseela Rajah, Ponmani Prashad and Ramachadran Nataarajan, all foreigners, were not in court to answer to charges of fraudulently obtaining Sh882 million from Kebs.
The accused persons will also be required to report to the investigating officer once every week. The pretrial starts on July 2.