Another blunder by Kenya police

May 21, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 21- Kenya police arrested and released a Somali businessman on Thursday over suspicion of financing a terror group in Somalia.

Police spokesman Erick Kiraithe confirmed that the wealthy businessman who was stopped at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport as he prepared to board a flight “was being interrogated on suspicion of funding the Al Shabaab militia group.”

“The suspect was arrested this morning (Thursday) at the airport as he was about to fly to Mogadishu,” he said.

“Detectives wanted to interrogate him to find out if he has any links with Al-Shabaab and if he has been funding the group,” he added.

“He was set free after the interrogation. He is a free man.”

Intelligence sources said the man was arrested when “airport officials became suspicious of the large sums of money he was carrying.”

“He was carrying a lot of money, that is when he was arrested and handed over to the anti-terrorism police unit for questioning. He was later released,” a source at the intelligence unit told Capital News.

Circumstances under which he was released were not immediately clear.

The police spokesman said: “We can not continue holding him. He has been cleared and released.”

Asked if there were any charges preferred against the Somali businessman, Mr Kiraithe said: “As far as we are concerned, he has been set free and if there is any information we need from him we will always get him. No charges as of now.”

The Officer-in-Charge of the Anti-Terrorism Police Unit (ATPU) Nicholas Kamwende could not be reached for comment.

The brief detention of the Somali businessman on Thursday raised more questions over the effectiveness of the country’s heavily funded intelligence unit.

Senior police officers interviewed and who requested to remain anonymous blamed their NSIS counterparts for failing to brief them adequately on any activities of suspicious Somalis in Kenya.

“We are not prepared to subject Somali businessmen to embarrassment whenever they are traveling in and out of the country to interrogate them if they have links with militia groups,” one source said.

“It is the work of the intelligence people to establish and inform us accordingly so that we don’t end up guessing by stopping people.”

Another police source said the Kenyan laws are not clear on what people found to be supporting militia groups in other countries should be charged with.

“Our laws are silent on this, this means that even if we arrest someone over funding or supporting militia groups in their countries, we can not prefer charges on them unless we hand them over to their own countries,” he said and added that “this can only happen if there was a warrant of arrest applied by their home countries.”


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