MOMBASA, October 2 – A Maritime official has been charged with giving alarming information concerning the seizure of a ship with war tanks for the Kenyan army.
Andrew Mwangura, of the Kenya Chapter of the Sea Farers Assistance Programme, was arraigned in a Mombasa court on Thursday afternoon, and also charged with being in possession of Sh200 worth of bhang (marijuana).
Resident Magistrate Richard Kirui was told that Mr Mwangura had published a false statement in a local daily that the military hardware hijacked by Somali pirates last week was destined for Southern Sudan.
Police prosecutors observed that the statement was ‘likely to cause fear and alarm’.
Mr Mwangura, who was arrested on Wednesday evening over his statements, was then denied bail and placed in police custody for five days, to allow for more investigations.
Mr Kirui’s court also heard that on October 2, at Changamwe, the Sea Farers boss was found in possession of four rolls of bhang worth Sh200. Mr Mwangura, through his lawyer Francis Kadima, denied the charges and applied for bail.
The Magistrate in his ruling however said that in view of the circumstances of the main count, more time for investigations was needed and ordered that Mr Mwangura remain in police custody. He said police had to make some recoveries in his house and other areas.
Mr Kirui also ordered that the case be mentioned on October 7 and be heard on 30 October.
Mr Mwangura has been providing information to the media over the hijacked Ukrainian vessel and police claim he appears to know a lot about the incident, however his lawyer had earlier stated that his client had no direct contact with Somali pirates holding the Ukrainian ship MV Faina.
Mr Kadima said the information his client had been relaying to the media was from his sources in the Ukrainian and Russian Chapters of the Sea Farers Assistance Programme, who’ve been in touch with their sailors on board the hostage vessel.
Meanwhile, the government has once again clarified that the military equipment hijacked was meant for the Kenyan army and not southern Sudan as had been insinuated.
In a terse statement during his weekly press briefing Thursday afternoon, Spokesman Dr Alfred Mutua said that the issue was clear, and that even the Sudanese Government had denied ordering any military arms.
“The shippers and sellers of the arms have stated that the cargo was for the Kenya Ministry of Defence and we have already availed documents verifying this. I don’t why some people are making this an issue!” Dr Mutua exclaimed.
He said the government was actively monitoring the situation of the hijacked ship and was continuing to work closely with security partners in this endeavour.
Dr Mutua further said that Mr Mwangura was arrested over his comments on the hijacked ship and would be released once police were satisfied that he is not involved with the Somalia pirates, who have hijacked the Ukraine ship carrying the arms.
Meanwhile, he European Union has agreed to establish an anti-piracy security operation off the coast of Somali following the seizure of the ship.
French Defence Minister Herve Morin said at least eight countries have agreed to take part.