Former Tourism Permanent Secretary (PS) Rebecca Nabutola (Right) and Kenya Tourism Board former Managing Director Achieng’ Ong’onga (Center) who had been jailed for fraud have been released by the High Court.

The two, alongside a board member Duncan Muriuki (Left) had been jailed by a magistrate court in September 2012 for allegedly defrauding the government money during a tour by the PSs to Maasai Mara but were set free Friday by Justice Musagha Mbogoli.

The three, who have been behind bars for over three months,  were released on Sh500,000 cash bail or bond of Sh1million pending the appeal of their four year jail terms. They were also directed to deposit their respective passports in court.

In his ruling,  Mbogoli said the appeals had chances of being successful and noted that the argument by the prosecution that the accused would flee from the country had not been properly justified as they were all Kenyan citizens.

“I am persuaded considering the totality of all submissions placed before me that the applicant’s appeals have overwhelming chances of being successful,” he said.

On the issue of bailing the suspects, he explained that they were all Kenyan citizens and noted that the fear that they were flight risk had not been properly justified.

“From the record, they never posed any threat of jumping bail during the trial in the lower court and so they qualify to be released on bail,” ruled the judge.

That he had restrained himself addressing the issue of evidence noting that in the event that the retrial was sought and allowed, then comments made would be prejudicial not only to the applicant but also the republic.

The tourism officials had in September been charged in court over the irregular payment of Sh8.9 million to a tour company and abuse of office, which they denied and but were sentenced to jail.

Nabutola was sentenced to four years in prison and fined Sh1million for abuse of office and failure to comply with procurement laws.

Dr Ong’ong’a was sentenced to three years in jail and fined Sh500,000 for abuse of office and another Sh1million for fraud.

Muriuki had also been jailed in relation to fraud within the Tourism ministry, earning three years in prison and a fine of more than Sh17.8m.

Copyright: The Standard