Dubai: Iranian Ambassador to Kenya Hadi Farajvand has been reportedly caught up in an investigation on a botched corruption plot to free two terror suspects from police custody.
The ambassador had been looking for high-level contacts in government who could help him to illegally secure the release of Iranian nationals Ahmad Abolfathi Mohammad and Sayed Mansour Mousavi who are in police custody pending a decision by the Supreme Court on whether to release them or not and smuggle them out of Kenya, Kenyan media reported on Saturday.
Authorities believe the two Iranians are members of the Quds Force, an elite unit of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard that carries out covert foreign missions, including terror attacks.
In the saga that has been going on since 2012, Mousavi and Mohammad whom the ambassador was allegedly trying to smuggle out of Kenya claimed they had come to Kenya as tourists when they were arrested.
The two were sentenced to life imprisonment in 2013 after they led the police to a lethal explosive identified as RDX in Mombasa and were accused of planning a terror attack.
The sentence was later reduced to 15-years in jail after they appealed at the High Court.
The sentence was later reduced to 15-years in jail, after they appealed at the High Court.
When they moved to the Court of Appeal, three judges in January last year quashed the sentence and set them free, stating that there was no sufficient evidence to link them to the bomb making material recovered in Mombasa in 2012.
However, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) moved to the Supreme Court to challenge their release with the judges allowing the police to remand the suspects in custody until a decision is made on their fate.
He argued that since there is no extradition treaty between Kenya and Iran, it would be difficult to take them back to Kenya after their repatriation.
On Friday, officers from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) arrested two Kenyans, Wesley Kiptanui Kipkemoi and Shemgrant Agyei, for allegedly defrauding the ambassador of an unknown amount of money by claiming to be Interior Ministry officials who could help him.
No details emerged about the plan they purportedly sold to Farajvand or how much money they received from him.
However, the Kenyan police told the Daily Nation that the Iranian ambassador was so confident the terror suspects would be freed that on February 8, he was captured on CCTV visiting an airline office in Nairobi alongside an aide to book three tickets for himself, Mohammad and Mousavi.
Farajvand later realised he had been duped and cancelled the tickets, Kenyans reported.
Detectives said the diplomat contacted government officials to inquire about the two individuals with whom he had been dealing.
The DCI launched an investigation that led to the arrest of Kipkemoi and Agyei, a Ghanaian national.
In his account to the police, Kipkemoi is said to have admitted he was introduced to the ambassador in June 2018 by a friend but denied defrauding him. He claimed the ambassador was initially keener on business opportunities in South Sudan.
The envoy is alleged to have later brought up the issue of freeing the two Iranians, but Kipkemoi reportedly said his role was to introduce them to a man he described as a businessman and wheeler-dealer , Agyei.
After his arrest on Friday, Agyei reportedly admitted to the police he had met Kipkemoi and the ambassador.
In June last year, an Interpol report claimed Iranian officials had attempted to compromise key Kenyan government employees and the criminal justice system to have the two released, the Nation reported.
According to the Daily Nation, Noordin Haji, the Director of Public Prosecutions expressed disappointment on learning about the plot to smuggle the foreigners out of the country.
“This is unacceptable and a clear attempt to subvert the course of justice and the rule of law. I intend to notify the Supreme Court about the latest developments because the two are now a flight risk. There may be a need to review the conditions in which they are held,” he told the daily.
Haji added that he would also write to Kenya’s Foreign Affairs Ministry to summon the ambassador for an explanation.
Sources at the foreign ministry said Farajvand had indicated he had been contacted by impersonators whom he now wanted arrested.
In March last year, three Kenyan MPs have accused Farajvand of trying to influence irregularly the release of two Iranians convicted on terrorism-related charges.
Farajvand’s actions flouted international treaties and the Kenyan Constitution, MPs Charles Kilonzo, Richard Tongi, and Dido Ali Rasso reportedly said, adding that the envoy was using “unorthodox means to secure the release” of the two suspects and of “overstepping his mandate and engaging in undiplomatic activities in the disguise of diplomatic immunity.”