AP officer, three others charged with illegal possession of Sh20m sandalwood

By: ERIC MATARA

Four people, among them an Administration Police officer, were Monday morning charged in a Nakuru court in connection with a Sh20 million sandalwood cargo seized along the Nakuru-Marigat road on Sunday.

The AP officer, Mr Arthenus Nyota, Mr Simon Kangethe, Mr Augustin Munyambo and Mr William Kiplagat appeared before Chief Magistrate Doreen Mulekyo and were charged with unlawful possession of the endangered tree.

They were accused of being in possession of the sandalwood, commonly used in the manufacture of perfumes and incense, without permission from the Director of the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS).

ARRESTED AFTER TIP-OFF

The suspects were arrested by KWS officers and detectives who had received a tip-off from the public.

The prosecution, led by Mr Hillary Songoyo, told the court that the four were intercepted at Eden estate within Nakuru Town, ferrying seven tons of sandalwood believed to have been sourced from Baringo County.

The court further heard that the four were found offloading the cargo from a police vehicle, GKB 622F belonging to Kashiela operation camp in Baringo South at the residence of Mr Munyambo.

The four denied the charges.

Through their lawyer Lawrence Karanja, they asked the court to release them on a reasonable cash bail or bond terms.

“The four remain innocent until proven otherwise,” Mr Karanja told the court.

He added that the law allows that they should only be treated as suspects.

The Court released them on a Sh8 million bond each with an alternative cash bail of Sh1 million each.

Hearing of the case was set for January 27, 2015.

SOURCE: DAILY NATION