Suspended Head of Kamiti Maximum Security Prison, Commandant Charles Mutembei Gerrard, his deputy Joseph Longarianyangand four others will spend a further five days in police cells until Monday next.
Kahawa Law courts Senior principal Magistrate Boaz Ombewa ordered the six who are facing allegations of aiding the three convicts to escape the prison premises be detained at Gigiri Police Station until Monday next week at 2 pm when he is expected to make a ruling on whether to allow the states request to continue holding them for another 30 days to enable police complete investigations into the matter.
The suspended officer in charge of Kamiti, his deputy Longarianyang and four other prison warders manning the CCTV camera at the facility namely Pamela Kiplimo, Peter Kamiju, Lilian Lunani and Nicholas Abongo were arrested on Wednesday and spent the night in police cells awaiting to be arraigned in court.
The magistrate further ordered the officer commanding Gigiri police station to facilitate Pamela and Lilian breastfeeding their babies aged 6 and 10 months old respectively. The court also directed all the suspects to be allowed access to their lawyers and relatives during the five days they will be behind bars.
The six were arraigned in court yesterday but were not charged with any offence after the prosecution made an application to have them held in custody as the investigations into the matter are not complete.
"That the respondents herein be detained by the DCI in custody for 30 days at a police station within Nairobi county to enable police to conclude investigations," the prosecution said.
In an affidavit filed in court by Chief Inspector Meschack Kagera attached to DCI headquarters, the serious crime unit sought the custodial orders saying that they are investigating the six on allegations of aiding prisoners in escaping from lawful custody contrary to section 124 of the penal code.
The court heard that the Six suspects on the night of November 14, 2021, while being in charge and warders at GK Kamiti Maximum prison, aided three convicts namely Musharaf Abdalla Akhulungaaka Zarkal aka Alex aka Shukri, Mohamed Ali Abikar and Joseph Juma Odhiambo aka Yusuf who had been convicted for the offences of terrorism offences and held in Condemned block A at Kamiti Maximum Prison escape from lawful custody.
"That the first and second respondent( Mutembei and his deputy Longarianyang) being the in0-charge failed to ensure that the building where the said convicts were held are in good condition to prevent their escape," Kagera informed the court.
The officer further informed the court that 3,45,6 are prison warders manning the CCTV cameras at GK Kamiti prison and were on duty on the convicts are suspected to have escaped from the lawful custody.
"The four prison warders failed to notice the activities of the convicts who escaped from the lawful custody despite the fact that the point of escape is properly covered by the CCTV cameras," Kagera said.
The officer informed the court that a multi-agency team of investigators from the serious crime unit, Anti-terrorism Prevention Unit, Cyber Crime Forensic Expert, Crime Scene investigators are still conducting investigations at the facility to establish the circumstances under which the three convicts were able to escape from a heavily guarded prison facility in the country.
"Going by the evidence already collected and the delicate nature of the case and considering that the convicts are persons who are security threats, there is a reasonable belief that the six suspects may destroy or interfere with the evidence that is intended to be used in the matter if not place in lawful custody for the period under investigations," Kigera stated.
The prosecution informed the court that the investigating team requires more to interrogate the six suspects, forensically analyze their communication, extract CCTV footage at the prison facility and further analyze the scene of the crime with the help of the Crime of Scene detectives.
But the six officers through lawyers Danstan Omari and Cliff Ombeta vehemently opposed the application to continue holding their clients does not meet the constitutional threshold.
They urged the court to release the six on reasonable bond terms as they are willing to abide by all the conditions set by the court including reporting to the investigators as and when required.
Omari informed the court that their clients are not a flight risk as their fixed abode is known.
Earlier, Omari also challenged the court’s jurisdiction noting that it was wrong for the suspects to be charged at Kahawa Court where people charged with terror are heard.
The defence lawyer claimed that the suspects were being charged with criminal negligence and not terror hence should be heard either at Milimani or Kiambu Law Courts.
“Aiding or facilitating the escape of an inmate is a felony, which is not a terror charge,” Omari argued.
“The fact that the escapees were terror convicts does not make this a terrorism matter. They had been convicted and their case was closed. The accused's alleged offence is a criminal matter that must be dealt with in a criminal court,” he added.
The magistrate however declined the defence request to transfer the cases to Milimani or Kiambu law court saying that Kahawa law court also has jurisdiction to handle the matter.