Joy and relief greeted the family, friends and relatives of flamboyant businessman and politician Don Bosco Gichana after the High Court in Arusha, Tanzania, on Tuesday fined him Sh13.7 million.
The controversial politician, who in 2007 gifted opposition leader Raila Odinga with a Hummer SUV, has been in custody since 2013.
Last week on Thursday, Mr Gichana pleaded guilty before the Tanzanian court and he was on Tuesday sentenced to a five-year jail term and a fine of TSh300 million (about Sh13.7 million).
But having already served the term, the court ruled that Gichana will walk to his freedom once he pays the fine. He has been on trial for conspiracy and money laundering alongside four others including his lawyer Median Mwale.
The youthful politician was first arrested on March 29, 2013, when he went to Tanzania to visit Mr Mwale, who had been in detention since August 2011 over various charges, among them money laundering.
He was arrested at the Namanga border point on his way back to Kenya after visiting Mr Mwale at Arusha Central Prison.
Gichana will, however, be free once he pays the fine within one month.
His family has said they are trying to raise the money to secure his freedom. “We are happy. This is good news to us. All we have to do is raise the money. Once done, he will be a free man. We will try to do this soonest possible,” said his cousin Dunstan Gichana, who spoke to the Nation on the phone from Tanzania. Last Thursday after Gichana pleaded guilty to four counts of conspiracy and money laundering, Judge Isah Maige of the High Court in Arusha postponed the judgment to Tuesday.
FALSE TAX RETURNS
Gichana was accused of filing false tax returns electronically to the US State Department of Treasury internal revenue service using different names of Dale Houston, Herbert Breneman and Syron Hess between 2008 and 2010, among other charges.
The prosecution, led by principal state attorneys Oshwald Tibabyekomya and Hashima Ngole, had last week read out the charges to Gichana who pleaded guilty to all the counts.
He also admitted the four exhibits presented by the prosecution, Tanzanian media reported.
The prosecution argued that in the false tax returns, Gichana indicated addresses of his co-conspirators, who at the material time were living in the US.
In 2013, the politician vied for the Kitutu Chache parliamentary seat and lost to the incumbent Richard Onyonka. Mr Onyonka said the releasing of Don Bosco was long overdue. He urged the government to also make a follow-up on other similar cases.