BY SAM ALFAN.
Former Kenya Bureau of Standards chief executive Charles Ongwae and five others have charged afresh over importation of a fertiliser alleged to have high mercury content.
They appeared before Milimani Senior Principal Magistrate Kennedy Cheruiyot and pleaded not guilty to the charges.
This comes a month after Director of Public Prosecutions dropped the charges against Benson Oduor Ngesa, Karim Lofti Senhadji, Malika Kirama, Younese Addou and OCP Kenya Limited.
However, prosecution will now charge Benson Oduor Ngesa who was discharged last month will face attempted murder charges after bleaching the plea agreement with the prosecution.
The entire criminal charge against the five accused persons be marked as withdrawn under section 87 (a) of the Criminal Procedure Code,” states the plea agreement.
Through Senior Assistant Director of Public Prosecution Alexander Muteti, the DPP said he entered the agreement without prejudice to the criminal case 1151/2018 as against the other six accused persons.
He said the move was necessitated by availability of new facts to the prosecution by the accused persons that clearly indicates that the decision to charge them was made without the full benefit of the full factual scenario being provided to the investigators and the prosecution.
The court heard the decision to charge Karim Lofti Senhadji, Malika Kirama, Younese Addou and OCP was made because they were out of jurisdiction but they later provided information and documents that have given a new dimension to the matter, prompting a review of decision to charge them.
He said the terms of the plea bargaining agreement are that the acquitted persons shall unconditionally withdraw the application filed by Ngesa and supported by the other four accused persons, seeking the retesting of the fertilizer that is the subject of the criminal trial.
Ongwae was charged afresh alongside KEBS officials namely Eric Chesire Kiptoo (Director, Quality Assurance), Peter Kinyanjui (Inspection Manager, Kilindini Port), Martin Muswanya Nyakiamo (Coast Region Manager, KEBS) and Pole Mwangeni (Port Health Officer Kilindini) and a KRA official Eric Karimi.
They denied several charges of attempted murder for allowing the importation of substandard fertiliser containing mercury.
The charges against their co-accused person were withdrawn following the plea bargain entered between suspects namely OCP (K) Ltd, its directors Malika Karama and Younes Addou and Benson Oduor Ngesa, a Clearing Agent Bollore Transport and Karimi Lofti Senhadji and the DPP.
On May 9, 2019 the DPP agreed to have the impounded consignment of 3,500 bags of fertiliser held at a godown in Mombasa released.
The fertiliser was impounded in June last year for allegedly containing mercury.
Its release is part of a plea agreement entered into by the DPP, and Senior Counsel Paul Muite acting for OCP (K) Ltd, a Moroccan company, its directors Malika Karama and Younes Addou and businessman Benson Ngesa.
“It was agreed between the parties and the DPP that the investigating officer shall concurrently release the impounded consignment of fertiliser held at Bollore warehouse in Mombasa to the OCP (K) Ltd,” reads the agreement.
Ongwae and his co-accused had opposed to the new charges but their application was dismissed due to lack of merits.
Ongwae and five others were also charged with procurement of fake standardisation sticker marks worth Sh 882 million ($8.75 million), aiding the commission of felony, breach of trust and abuse of office.
Prosecution alleges that the accused persons on diverse dates between November 13,2017 and June 7,2018 jointly with others not before court unlawfully cause the death of persons residing in Narok and Eldoret areas, unlawfully released 5,846,000 kilograms of substandard compound fertilizer which contained excessive mercury mineral a substance that endangers human life.
The six are also accused that on diverse dates between the November 13,2017 and June 7,2018 being persons employed in the public service , jointly with others not before court , aided Benson Oduor Ngesa and Stephen Boaz Oloo Otieno employees of Bollore Transport & Logistics Kenya limited to commit attempted murder by unlawfully releasing for use in the republic of Kenya 5,846,000 kilograms of substandard fertilizer which contained excessive mercury mineral a substance that endangers human life.
Ngesa will be charged alongside Stephen Boaz Oloo Otieno who will both take plea on June 27 since they were not present in court.
The two are accused that on diverse dates between November 13,2017 and June 7,2018 being employees of Ballore Transport and Logistics Kenya Limited jointly with others not before court unlawfully released 5,846,000 kilograms of substandard compound fertilizer which contained excessive mercury mineral a substance that endangers human life.
The court further heard that the accused on diverse dates between January 23, and March 2,2018 being state officers abused their offices by unlawfully authorizing the release of substandard fertilizer whose mercury content did not conform with Kenya Standard to compound fertilizer Ks158:2012.
Ongwae and Kiptoo alone are also accused of willful disobedience of statutory duty. They are out on a cash bail of 2 million.