Kenya police prove Minister wrong

April 29, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 29 – Police on Thursday paraded the man arrested last week on suspicion that he was Triton oil scandal suspect Yagnesh Devani to prove to the public that he was not the wanted fugitive.

The parade was held at the CID headquarters, a day after Immigration Minister Otieno Kajwang\’ contradicted Police Commissioner Mathew Iteere about the real identity of the suspect.

Mr Iteere and CID Director Karanja Gatiba told reporters they set the suspect free on Wednesday after they established beyond reasonable doubt, that he was a nephew of the runaway businessman but recalled him a day later to demonstrate they were right and not Mr Kajwang’.

“He is not Devani, we cannot have released a man we have been looking for,” Mr Iteere said and referred journalists to the CID headquarters to see the suspect who spent five days in police custody.

Mr Devani’s nephew was arrested last Friday at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) but samples of fingerprints taken from him did not match those of the Triton oil scandal architect.

“My name is Kalpesh Devani, I had just come from India where I’d gone on a tourist Visa in October 2007. Upon arrival at the airport, I was told that I was the Devani who was involved in Triton Petroleum but I was not the one and they released me,” he said.

“Mr Yagnesh Devani is my uncle, but I have not been in touch with him for a long time now,” he said.

Mr Kalpesh told journalists he had been detained briefly at New Delhi by Interpol who mistook him for the wanted Mr Devani when he went to extend his Visa.

“I think it is because of Interpol in Delhi… they kept me for two three hours, and then they released me and they said I can fly to Kenya. They mistook me for Mr Yagnesh Devani, but I sorted myself out and they released me,” he said.

Police in Nairobi said they were tipped off by the Interpol to re-confirm if the man on the flight to Kenya was Mr Devani and that is when they lay in wait for him at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.

The investigating officer in the case Kamlus Odhiambo said it was Immigration Officers who first got hold of the suspect, cleared him at the airport before they handed him over to them.

“When we got hold of him, we took him in for questioning and later took his fingerprints samples and his passport and when we established that he was not the man we were interested in, we set him free.  As you can see he is not the Devani who is wanted,” Mr Odhiambo said.

Immigration Minister Mr Kajwang has issued statements twice insisting the man arrested and later released was Yagnesh Devani who is wanted over the Sh7.6 billion oil scandal and even accused the police chief of misleading the public.

But on Thursday, Mr Iteere stuck to his position and said “we are not in any doubt. It is not Devani.”

The Commissioner said the man paraded at the CID headquarters was a free man.

Mr Iteere said they were still looking for Mr Devani to face two criminal charges pending in court in relation to the oil scandal which led to the loss of millions of shillings belonging to the Kenya Commercial Bank and the Kenya Pipeline Corporation.

The government sought Interpol’s help to have Mr Devani, together with other directors of his Triton Petroleum Company arrested over the scandal in January last year after accountancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers was contracted to carry out a forensic audit on the scope of the oil fraud.


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