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September 21, 2018

Swazuri barred from office, freed on Sh6 million bond

National Land Commission chair Muhammad Swazuri with his co-accused at the Anti-Corruption Court on allegations of conspiracy to steal Sh222 million, August 13, 2018. /ANNETTE WAMALWA
National Land Commission chair Muhammad Swazuri with his co-accused at the Anti-Corruption Court on allegations of conspiracy to steal Sh222 million, August 13, 2018. /ANNETTE WAMALWA

NLC chair Muhammad Swazuri and Kenya Railways MD Atanas Maina have been freed on bail but barred from accessing their public offices.

The two were charged with corruption-related offences alongside 10 public officers from the Ministry of Lands and the Kenya Railways Corporation. The amount in question is Sh222 million.

Read: Swazuri denies Sh222 million corruption charges

While granting the two bail on Monday, Anti-Corruption Court chief magistrate Lawrence Mugambi noted there were no valid reasons to hold them.

"The DPP objected the bail based on security issues but I did not find evidence to compel the court to deny the accused bail," he said. "The concerns can be taken care of ... the accused persons are entitled to bail."

Besides staying away from their offices, Swazuri and Maina were ordered not to make any contact with witnesses.

Swazuri was released on Sh6 million bond or Sh3.5 million cash bail and Maina on Sh3 million bond or Sh1.5 million cash bail.

The court heard that Swazuri and his co-accused systematically conspired to defraud the public.

The prosecution claimed they all conspired to commit crimes which led to the loss of Sh222,375,000 of public funds, in payments for three pieces of land belonging to KRC.

The National Land Commission chair denied five counts of abuse of office and an alternative charge of breach of trust.

Senior Superintendent of Police Alexander Muteti had pleaded with the court for the suspects to be held in remand prison until the case is concluded.

Lawyer Tom Ojienda had asked the court to release all the accused persons on reasonable terms.

Ojienda said the 12 accused persons operated in line with their mandates when they paid that amount of money to three companies.

"They are not a threat to national security" he also said adding that the matter has a civil background because of the title deeds in question.

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