DCI: No Proof Venezuelans Arrested At JKIA With Election Materials Were IEBC Or Smartmatic Officials

The Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) now says that the three Venezuelan nationals arrested at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) carrying election materials could not be proven to be employees of Smartmatic International B.V, the company procured by IEBC to provide technology for the August 9th General Election.

Joel Gustavo Rodríguez García, Camargo Castellanos Jose Gregorio and Salvador Javier Suarez were arrested on Thursday, July 21, for being in possession of election stickers.

While IEBC maintains the three were in the country to execute a lawful contract relating to the deployment of technology in elections, DCI has said the three did not bear any letter or documentation indicating that he had been invited by the commission.

“As per the contract dated 25th November 2021 between IEBC and M/S Smartmatic International Holding B.V vide tender no. IEBC/01T/001/21/2022-2021 the three suspects are not expressly indicated as employees of IEBC or Smartmatic International B.V,” the directorate said in a statement on Sunday.

According to the George Kinoti-led agency, the foreigners were in Kenya on invitation of someone identified as Abdulahi Abdi Mohamed. 

“Further investigation conducted on Camargo Castellanos Jose Gregorio also showed that he had arrived in the country on a business visa on the invitation of one Abdulahi Abdi Mohamed to his office for work related activities via a letter addressed to the officer in charge of the visa section Embassy of Kenya on 18th July. 2022,” said DCI.

“​​Upon probing the suspect, it emerged that Mr. Camargo did not bear any letter or documentation indicating that he had been invited by IEBC and as such the materials in his possession belonged to Abdulahi Abdi Mohamed.”

The directorate further stated that the three were travelling using expired passports.

Gustavo was carrying 9 rolls of election stickers while Salvador Javier Suarez was carrying 8 rolls of the stickers.

DCI said during his arrest, Gustavo’s bag contained a laptop, a monitor, five flash drives, among other computer accessories, as well as rolls of election stickers which he said was from his employer.

“A further search was conducted at their apartment wherein the detectives seized and confiscated one tablet and two flash disks. All the seized electronic devices were forwarded to ATPU Forensic laboratory for examination and analysis,” the statement added.

The arrest of the three drew reactions from different quarters of the authorities, with the IEBC terming the incident as “unjustified intimidation, harassment and blackmail.” 

The electoral body said Gustavo and the others were released conditionally and the poll materials had not been released as had been claimed.

The Directorate of Criminal Investigations later dismissed IEBC’s comments, saying the so-called OCS Anti-Terrorism Police Unit, which the three Venezuelans were to allegedly appear before, did not exist.

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