FALSE!

FACT CHECK: Did June Ruto meet Echesa in Poland as part of the fake military arms deal?

A photo of Echesa purportedly with Deputy President's daughter June Ruto has gone viral.

In Summary

• Echesa and three others were last week arrested by DCI detectives over links to procure a fake military arms deal for the government.

• When Echesa was arrested, his photos portraying him to be in negotiations with top Polish military personnel flooded the social media.

A photo of former Sports CS Rashid Echesa with Deputy President William Ruto's daughter June Ruto has gone viral on social media alleging that the two met in Poland to negotiate part of what has come out as the fake military arms deal.

But are these claims true?

The Star fact-check desk moved in to ascertain the authenticity of the image.

 

How did it start?

Echesa and three others were last week arrested by DCI detectives over links to procure a fake military arms deal for the government.

The deal is said to have been worth Sh39.5 billion.

Echesa and his co-accused were on Monday charged with conspiracy to commit a felony by conspiring to make a document with intent to defraud.

Echesa has also been charged alongside three others with six counts of making a false document in the scam.

They are also alleged to have obtained Sh11.5 Million from Kozlowski Stanley Bruno by purporting that they will award him with a tender to supply military equipment.

However, they all denied the charges.

The photoshoped photo alleging June Ruto met with Echesa in Poland.
The photoshoped photo alleging June Ruto met with Echesa in Poland.
Image: COURTESY
 
 

Echesa has also denied impersonating to be Deputy President William Ruto's PA.

The suspects were also charged with attempting to defraud Sh39 billion from the complainants.

The prosecution opposed bail with the DPP saying if released they might interfere with witnesses and exhibits.

They were however granted a Sh1 million bail or an alternative Sh3 million bond each to secure their freedom.

Kenyans On Twitter later started a hashtag condemning Echesa and the deals.

While some used the photoshop photo to demand the recalling of June, others went ahead to clarify it was a fake photo used for propaganda.

What are the findings?

The Star's fact-check desk has established that whereas it is true Echesa is being investigated for the fake arms deal, a silent campaign dubbed '2030 files' has been going on over his close links to the deputy president William Ruto.

As a result, when Echesa was arrested, his photos portraying him to be in negotiations with top Polish military personnel flooded the social media.

One aspect that is clear is that these photos were branded 2030 files.

The office of the DP on Monday clarified that at no point has the DP held a meeting with Ehesa over the deal.

Communications secretary David Mugonyi said while it is true Echesa visited the Harambee Annex with an intention to meet the DP, the meeting did not happen as the DP was absent from the office.

Sor far the DCI have reviewed the CCTV footage and grilled top aides to the DP as investigations into the deal proceed.

Secondly, the Star established that Kenya does not have an Embassy in Poland.

It has an Embassy is in Rome, Italy but with multiple accreditations to Poland, Cyprus, Greece and Malta with Ambassador Jackline Yonga serving as the current permanent representative.

A source from the foreign affairs confirmed that Ruto's daughter June Ruto serves as the current deputy head of mission to Poland.

In February last year, some Kenyans took to social media after it emerged that June Ruto was Kenya’s Charge D’Affaires in Poland.

The information emerged when then Foreign Affairs CS Monica Juma posted photos with June as she received her in Warsaw where she was on a diplomatic trip.

“Arrived in Warsaw, Poland this morning to attend the Warsaw Summit which will be looking at security in the Middle East, taking place tomorrow. Was received by June Ruto, Charge D’Affaires,” Juma posted on Twitter.

When asked of June's role in the European nation, the ministry denied the claims saying, "It is not true that she has been posted as a deputy ambassador. In fact, she is a very junior officer working as international relations and trade officer under the American directorate at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs".

The original photos during the exhibition
The original photos during the exhibition

June's role thus remains one of the senior-most ranks in foreign service as a Charge D’Affaires heads an embassy in the absence of the ambassador.

June holds a master’s degree in International Studies from the University of Queensland, Australia and a bachelor's degree in Diplomacy from the United States International University (USIU) in Nairobi.

The ministry told the Star that despite June's position, she has not at any point held talks with anybody regarding whatever negotiations leave alone a military deal.

On digging deeper, the Star established the viral photo is a photoshop created on Monday.

The original photo was taken in Poland last year during the 26th International Defense Industry Exhibition (MSPO).

The event attracted 624 exhibitors from 31 countries all displaying modern weaponry in terms of bombs, tanks and drones.

The said photo is thus among 22 pictures that were displayed in the gallery as in the link below.

Verdict

It is in public that Echesa and three others are being investigated for the fake deal.

So far police reports indicate they had already obtained Sh11.5 million from Kozlowski Stanley Bruno for the deal.

According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, it is confirmed that June Ruto is the deputy head of mission to Poland.

However, the claims that Echesa and Ruto held a meeting to negotiate the deal are baseless because the image is Photoshopped.

The Star thus indicates the claims are FALSE as police are yet to conclude investigations.

In their submissions in court, the police said they intend to travel to establish who else the suspects met and what they talked about.

The truth can only be established upon the conclusion of the investigation.


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