Kenyans set free from Juba prison reunite with families

Thursday December 7 2017

Ravi Ramesh. #SouthSudan4 PHOTO | NMG

Ravi Ramesh, one of the four Kenyans who had been jailed for life in South Sudan but released after Kenya government intervention, addresses the press at a Nairobi hotel on December 7, 2017. PHOTO | NMG 

By The EastAfrican
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Four Kenyans who were freed after nearly two years in prison in South Sudan were reunited with their families in Nairobi on Thursday.

The four had been sentenced to life imprisonment, along with 12 South Sudanese nationals, for embezzlement of Juba government funds, in June last year.

Their release on Wednesday followed talks between the heads of State of the two countries, Uhuru Kenyatta and Salva Kiir.

Boniface Muriuki, Ravi Ramesh, Antony Mwadime and Anthony Keya — landed at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport on Wednesday evening accompanied by Kenya's foreign ministry officials.

Presenting them to the media in Nairobi on Thursday, Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Monica Juma warned Kenyans pursuing jobs outside the country to seek the ministry's help in vetting firms offering them employment opportunities before they travel.

She said many Kenyans are being duped by shoddy organisations.

"The government will remain committed to protect all Kenyans wherever they are. However, we continue to get deeply concerned with cases where Kenyans travel to take up jobs without bothering to take due diligence or referring to the government to confirm the nature of companies or credibility of companies offering those opportunities," she said.

At the press conference, Mr Ramesh, on behalf of the others, thanked the government for securing their release.

"We thank the President and all Kenyans who stood with our families in prayers. We are happy to be home," he said.

One the four Kenyans who had been jailed for life in South Sudan greets a relative on December 7, 2017 in. PHOTO | NATION

One the four Kenyans who had been jailed for life in South Sudan, but released after Kenya government intervention, greets a relative in Nairobi on December 7, 2017 in. PHOTO | NMG

Their families had appealed to the Nairobi government and the United Nations Human Rights Council to intervene, saying they had been denied fair hearing in Juba.

Foreign ministry officials, including Ms Juma, flew to the South Sudanese capital to receive them Wednesday and "iron out technical details as is required of friendly governments."

On landing in Nairobi, the four were quietly driven out of the main airport in a convoy of government vehicles for debriefing.

The four were employees of Click Technologies, which supplied electronics to the Juba government, founded by a senior security officer in President Kiir’s office, John Agou and his wife Anyeth Chat Bol.

Mr Agou, the court found, conspired with his employees to swindle the Office of the President and other ministries, by receiving payments for phantom deliveries.

-Reported by Fred Mukinda.