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Contractor in KRA gun drama freed on bond

Times Tower
Times Tower. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

A contractor, who threatened to kill a Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) tax enforcement officer to avoid arrest over a Sh162 million tax evasion case, has been freed on a Sh10 million bond with one surety.

And at the same time, Hassan Ahmednur Baricha has engaged senior counsel to defend him in the case, which attracts a 10-year jail term.

Mr Baricha, the proprietor of Hanamal Construction Company, hired Senator James Orengo and Senior Counsel Kioko Kilukumi to defend him in the case besides advocate Gibson Kimani.

He denied flouting the tax rules between 2015 and 2017 by fraudulently falsifying returns and earnings thereby failing to remit Sh162,059,273 to the KRA.

Mr Baricha brought in the senior counsel after he spent a day in a prison remand. The State had opposed his release on bond saying, "he is dangerous and a flight risk".

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KRA prosecutor Nelly Ngovi opposed the release of Mr Baricha on bond, saying the accused threatened the life of enforcement officer Solomon Laikera who is also a police officer attached to the tax department from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations.

The officer jumped from a moving vehicle to save his life, hurting his hip and leg.

The defence urged trial magistrate Peter Ooko to free the accused on bond, citing Article 49 of the Constitution that requires courts to free suspects on bond unless there are compelling reasons.

In his ruling, Mr Ooko said although the prosecution claimed the suspect is a flight risk, it did not furnish the court with evidence that he was arrested while attempting to flee the jurisdiction of the court.

He said the fact that Mr Baricha allegedly threatened to use his gun on the police officer did not make him "a flight risk".

He said no compelling reasons were advanced to enable the court to decline the accused's bail plea.

Mr Ooko allowed the accused bail plea, saying it was his constitutional right.

He directed Mr Baricha to deposit Sh10million in bond with one surety of similar amount.

The court also directed him to pay an alternative cash bail of Sh5 million in case he fails to raise the surety.

The magistrate warned the suspect not to interfere with witnesses besides depositing his travel documents in court.

Besides, Baricha was ordered to deposit Sh10 million surety bond or a cash bail of Sh1 million.

The court allowed a plea by Mr Kilukumi that the company be given seven days for the board of directors to pass a resolution about the cash bail.

"If Ahmednur will have not deposited the Sh1 million within seven days on behalf of the company then this court will have no alternative to lock him up," Mr Kilukumi.

Upon conviction, Mr Baricha is likely to be handed a ten-year jail term and a fine of Sh324 million being double the amount alleged to have defaulted.

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