Court acquits 32 Chinese nationals accused of cyber-crimes


Court acquits 32 Chinese nationals accused of cyber-crimes

The court has acquitted 32 Chinese nationals who were facing cyber-crime charges after their arrest in Nairobi’s Runda estate in 2014.

During the ruling, the court said the prosecution was unable to prove the case.

In December 2014, police arrested 76 Chinese nationals and one Thai national on suspicion of running a cyber-crime centre from homes in Runda.

Officers believed the gang had been preparing to hack the country’s communication systems.

Equipment capable of infiltrating bank accounts, Kenya’s M-Pesa mobile banking system and cash machines were discovered after a series of raids.

“The suspects are being interrogated to establish their mission in the country and what they wanted to do with the communication gadgets. They have been charged in court,” said the director of Kenya’s criminal investigation department, Ndegwa Muhoro, last year.

“We want to do a thorough investigation over the matter and we are currently working on their travel documents,” added police spokeswoman Zipporah Mboroki.

The arrests were sparked by a fire at a home in Nairobi in which one person died.

Police investigating the cause of the fire attributed it to a faulty server and a number of raids then took place on upmarket houses rented by the Chinese nationals.

Police said many of those detained appeared to have been in the country illegally.

In January 2015, the Chinese Government formally asked Kenya to hand over 76 of its citizens who were facing cyber-crime charges.

The suspects had stolen close to Ksh 1.5 billion from their victims in China through electronic fraud, Chinese authorities revealed, as they pushed Kenya to have them extradited.

The Chinese Ambassador to Kenya, Mr Liu Xianfa, wrote to the Foreign Affairs Ministry, indicating that the suspects should be turned over because “the results of investigations indicate that all the victims (of the fraud) are in China”.

Kenya and China have no agreement on exchange of prisoners.

China’s argument had been that the suspects are part of a global syndicate targeting China and that other groups had been arrested in the Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore and Egypt over the last two years.

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