May 30, 2018 / 6:18 AM / 21 days ago

Suspects in Kenya public fund theft case to stay in custody until June 4

NAIROBI, May 30 (Reuters) - Kenya’s public prosecutor said on Wednesday 24 civil servants and business people charged a day earlier with involvement in the theft of nearly $100 million of public funds would stay in custody until June 4, when they will have a bail hearing.

The suspects, who included the public service ministry’s principal secretary, pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to magistrate Douglas Ogoti to charges that relate to stealing at the government’s National Youth Service (NYS).‏

“Accused to be remanded in custody until Monday 4th June, 2018 when court will rule on their bail application,” the office of the director of public prosecution said on Twitter.

The NYS is a state agency that trains young people and deploys them to work on projects ranging from construction to traffic control.

It is rare for prosecutors to bring such a large group of public officials to court to answer corruption charges.

President Uhuru Kenyatta pledged to stamp out graft when he was first elected in 2013 but critics say he has been slow to pursue top officials and ministers.

The chief prosecutor Noordin Mohamed Haji on Monday named 54 people, 40 of them government officials, to face charges on counts including abuse of office and conspiracy to commit an economic crime. Some of those charged remained at large.

The prosecutor’s office added on Twitter it had applied for arrest warrants for suspects who failed to turn up in court on Tuesday, or that they could surrender to the police. (Reporting by George Obulutsa; Editing by Omar Mohammed and Mark Potter)

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