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Magistrate orders more arrests in Sh11 million face-mask scam

The Chief executive of the Anti- Counterfeit Agency (ACA) has been summoned to appear in court for refusing to release a file in which a medical doctor and two traders have been charged with selling 20,000 counterfeit face masks to Aga Khan Hospital worth Sh11million.

At the same time Police have been ordered to arrest a director of the company which procured the fake face masks for forging medical records from Kenyatta National Hospital in a bid to skip prosecution.

Milimani senior principal magistrate Ms Esther Kimilu ordered the immediate arrest and arraignment of Liliam Awuor of Real-Time Company.

Ms Awuor will be charged alongside Dr Kimani Muthami, a private medical practitioner, together with Mr William Muthee and Ms Sylvia Wambui.

Dr Muthami, Mr Muthee and Ms Wambui have denied seven counts of conspiring to sell counterfeit goods, aiding the sale of counterfeit goods, importing counterfeit goods, controlling and selling of the said counterfeit facemasks.

When the case came up for pre-trial Ms Awuor failed to turn up and Mr Nyaribo said she was unwell and there were medical records from Kenyatta National Hospital.

“Investigations from KNH have revealed Ms Awuor has never been treated or admitted at the Country’s largest health facility,” a prosecutor disclosed.

The magistrate was furnished with medical records from KNH which indicated Ms Awuor has never been admitted at the health facility.

“Since the arraignment of the accused early January this year police have never received the investigation file,” the prosecutor stated.

Defence lawyers Kibiru Njenga , Ishmael Nyaribo, Ceaser Wanjau and Gachie Mwanza said they have not been supplied with witness statements.

The accused who are charged with selling the facemasks branded “3M” without the authority of 3M Company, the registered owner of “3M Trade Mark No.42326” have not instructed their lawyers due to lack of witness statements.

Ms Kimilu heard that the counterfeit goods, imitated the genuine ones which are clustered under Class 10.

Dr Muthami, director of Johngray Communications Limited was charged alongside Mr Muthee a director of Davetronics Company Limited, Ms Wambui, and Liliam Awuor of Real-Time Company.

Ms Awuor did not attend court on Thursday as she was said to be indisposed.

Medical records were presented to the court.

The medic and the traders were charged that between December 30 2020 and January 18 2021 conspired to sell counterfeit goods to wit 20,000 pieces of “3M” branded masks valued at Ksh11M without the authority of 3M Company the registered owner of 3M trademark.

In the count of aiding the sale of counterfeit goods, they are all alleged to have sold the said masks while imitating the protected goods in such manner and to such degree that those counterfeit goods are substantially similar copies of the protected goods.

Real-Time is charged with selling and importing counterfeit facemasks.

Johngray Communications Limited of Dr Muthami and the other co-accused were accused of controlling the goods in the course of trade.

The defence lawyers urged the court to summon the CEO of the agency for refusing to avail the accused file to the police.

In her ruling, Ms Kimilu said: “There is no reason availed to this court why the counterfeit agency has not given police the file in respect of this case.”

She ordered the CEO to appear in Court February 28,2022 to explain why the file in the case has not been released to police.

The accused are out on a bond of Ksh 700,000 or alternative cash bail of Ksh300,000.

Ms Kimilu had earlier been urged by the defence lawyers to terminate the case under Section 87 (a) of the Criminal Procedure Code but she declined.