NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 10 – They filed into court using whatever was at their disposal, hospital masks, scarves and even their hairs, to shield their faces.
The 36 Chinese nationals and a Thai were charged with: “Using radio communication apparatus without a licence and providing telecommunications services without a licence.”
Counts to which they all pleaded, “not true,” before being denied bail by Senior Principal Magistrate Lucy Mbugua who set their mention date for December 30 and ordered that they be remanded at the Industrial Area prison.
Mbugua denied them release at the objection of Senior Prosecuting Counsel Duncan Ondimu who informed the court that investigations into the extent of their alleged cyber crime were still being conducted.
“The investigating officer is still awaiting reports from the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) and the cyber crime unit,” Ondimu told the court.
He also cited Kenya’s porous borders as a reason to deny them bail.
“While we may have their passports in custody, the seriousness of the charges they are facing might cause them to flee,” Ondimu said.
The defence counsel Tom Wachakana, on his part, informed the court that they would be appearing before Justice Luka Kimaru on Thursday morning for a bail hearing.
“When we went to him on Monday he told us he could not hear us until the accused took a plea,” he explained.
The accused, Ondimu said, could plead to more, “serious,” charges depending on what the CA report shows.
The 37, who are in the country on valid tourist visas, are among 40 others believed to be part of a cyber crime syndicate that was arrested in the Gigiri area of Runda last week.
Ondimu told Capital FM News that the group of 40 is likely to be arraigned separately on Thursday as they were arrested in a separate house but within, “the same area.”
The Chinese Embassy has in the meantime described their arrest as a, “an isolated individual criminal case that will not dent the all-round cooperation that China and Kenya enjoy.”
Kenya’s Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohammed has also assured Chinese nationals – given the accused are on tourist visas – that the incident will not cause Kenya to be restrictive in its issuance of tourist visas to Chinese nationals.