, NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 30 – Former Tourism Permanent Secretary Rebecca Nabutola and ex-Kenya Tourist Board Managing Director Achieng Ong’ong’a have finally been freed on Sh500,000 cash bail each, after spending more than two months in jail.
The duo and tour Operator Duncan Muriuki will be set free pending an appeal they filed against their September 10 convictions for fraud.
Nabutola had been jailed for four years while Ong’ong’a was to serve three years in prison after they were found guilty of defrauding the Tourism Ministry of Sh8.9 million.
In addition, Nabutola was required to pay a fine of Sh1 million and in default serve a further two years in jail, while Ong’ong’a was to pay Sh1.5 million or serve two more years.
Muriuki was sent to prison for seven years without the option of a fine.
Muriuki will also pay Sh17.8 million in fines or serve three years in default.
On Friday, High Court Judge Mbogholi Msagha said he was convinced that their appeal had high chances of success.
Justice Mbogholi also said the prosecution had not demonstrated properly that the applicants were a flight risk.
“I am not convinced that the applicants will abscond as reflected in the records from the lower court. They never posed any threats of jumping bail during the trial,” Justice Mbogholi ruled.
The trio was charged in May 2009 following recommendations by the then Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission, now known as the EACC.
The case involved investigations in the illegal payments of money to Muriuki’s company that coordinated a visit to the Maasai Mara by President Mwai Kibaki and other top government officials.
According to the prosecutor, the procurement procedures were flouted in awarding the tender to the firm that organised the tour, and blamed the PS and the former KTB boss for failing to follow laid down regulations.
In mitigation, Nabutola defended the trip to the Maasai Mara game reserve that included several government dignitaries.
During the three-day tour, Nabutola said the participants visited various hotels and resorts in the game reserve and held meetings with stakeholders in tourism, security personnel and local authorities on ways to improve the sector.