By: GRACE GITAU
Five students and an IT consultant were charged on Tuesday in an Othaya court with the theft of Sh30.9 million from Equity Bank’s Othaya branch.
They pleaded not guilty.
The six, among them three Form Four leavers and two university students, are accused of conspiring with Equity Bank employees and stealing the money on October 2 in Othaya Town, Nyeri County.
Mr Phineas Mutwiri and Mr Dennis Kimathi, who are students at Technical University of Kenya, together Mr Justine Mutua and Mr Gregory Gichuru, both Form Four leavers, were arrested in Nairobi on October 19.
Mr Elias Gitonga surrendered to the CID offices while Mr Peter Mutembei, a Form Four leaver, surrendered at the Othaya Police Station on October 20.
The suspects, who have been in police custody for nine days, were hopeful they would be released on bond.
But upon request, through their lawyers Mr David John Mbaya and Mr Mugambi Mugania, to be released on bond, they were asked to wait for a ruling to be delivered next week.
TO REMAIN IN CUSTODY
Othaya Resident Magistrate Raymond Kibet ordered that the accused remain in police custody until he delivers a ruling on November 2.
Both lawyers argued that the accused were being detained for an inconsiderably long time, noting they were not capable of absconding once released.
“The third accused, Peter Mutembei, completed high school last year and is due for admission in a college,” lawyer Mugambi told the court.
The IT consultant, Mr Gitonga, through his lawyer, Mr Mbaya, told the court his client was being punished and his business threatened.
When some of the suspects were arrested, police seized computers, mobile phones and thousands of SIM cards.
Police believe the SIM cards were being used in money laundering schemes.
State counsel Nicodemus Ouma argued that a case involving the six was before another magistrate and requested that the accused remain in custody.
“A case involving the six will be heard in Court 1 tomorrow (Wednesday) and I wish that the court gives direction with that in mind.
“However, we intend to consolidate the two matters,” he said.
The court denied them bond and declined to issue an order to release their items that had been confiscated by the police.