The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has been granted two weeks to file new charges against eight suspects including Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) Managing Director Benard Njiraini over the disappearance and sale of toxic sugar.
Milimani Chief Magistrate Lucas Onyina allowed the DPP request to be given more time to amend the charge sheet.
When the case came for a pre-trial conference, the DPP through Anderson Gikunda informed the court that they were not ready to proceed as they intended to consolidate the case with another suspect known as Gilbert Zully Benzi who was charged last week.
"The matter was coming for consolidation with case number E380/2023 and for pretrial. The consolidated charge sheet and the documentary evidence are not ready. We pray for a mention date on June 21," Gikunda stated.
The defence lawyers led by Peter King'ang'i opposed the request by the state to postpone the pre-trial conference saying they want the trial expedited.
The court heard that the career of the accused persons are at risk as they may lose their jobs.
"We wish to have the matter proceed promptly. There is a national interest in this matter and the careers of the accused persons are at risk following their arraignment in court and the national interest," King'ang'i said.
In the case, Njiraini is charged alongside KRA deputy Commissioner Joseph Kiago Kaguru over the theft of 20,000 bags of condemned brown worth over Ksh20 million. The sugar had been condemned and was intended to be used as raw material for the distillation of industrial Ethanol.
Others charged are two suspended KRA officials Derrick Njeru Kago and Peter Njoronge Mwangi, shipping agent at Mombasa port Crispus Waithaka Macharia, businessmen Mohammed Hassan Ali, Abdi Hirsi Yusuf alias Blackie and Pollyanne Njeri Kamau.
The eight including three government officers and five business people are charged with various crimes, including, conspiracy to commit a felony, abuse of office, stealing, interference with goods subject to customs control, and being in possession of restricted goods.
In count one, the accused persons were charged that on diverse dates between December 9, 2022, and May 3, 2023, at an unknown place within the Republic of Kenya, jointly with others, conspired to steal condemned brown sugar valued at Ksh20,064,000 intended to be used as raw material for distillation of industrial Ethanol, the property of Kenya Revenue Authority.
"On diverse dates between April 21 and May 3, 2023, at Kings Commodities Limited Godown at Makongeni area Thika township in Kiambu county, the eight accused persons jointly with others not before the court, stole 20,064-50 kilograms of condemned brown sugar valued at Ksh20 milion intended to be used as raw material for distillation of industrial Ethanol the property of KRA," the charge sheet filed court states.
The eight suspects were also charged with interference with the 20,064 bags of 50 KGs each condemned brown sugar KRA customs seals number 0295454 and 0295457.
Njiraini alone was charged that on December 9, 2022, at Kenya Bureau of Standards Nairobi county, being a person employed as the MD of the state agency abused his office by arbitrarily recommending conversion of condemned brown sugar onto industrial Ethanol through the process of distillation, an act which was prejudicial to the office of the commissioner customs and border control KRA.
Kaguru was separately charged that on February 16, 2023, at Times Tower in Nairobi county being an employee of KRA as the deputy commissioner of Revenue and Regional Coordination, used his office to arbitrarily single source a company trading as Vinepack Lites to convert condemned brown sugar into Ethanol without competitive bidding as directed by the Attorney General's advisory opinion.
Yusuf who is the proprietor of Maha stores in the Shimanzi Area in Mombasa county was also alone charged he was found in possession of twelve bags of 50 Kilograms each of the condemned brown sugar of a dutiable value of Ksh90,000 on May 4, 2023.
They pleaded not guilty and were released on a bond of Ksh800,000 or Ksh400,000 bail.