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Reprieve for tycoon after court halts jail sentence over land

NAIROBI
By Paul Ogemba | November 25th 2021

Judge’s gavel [Courtesy]

A businessman has been spared a jail term over allegations of grabbing land valued at Sh1 billion.

Justice George Odunga stopped Mavoko Law Courts Principal Magistrate Helen Onkwani from sentencing Prasul Jayantilal Shah, the managing director of Megvel Cartons Limited, until his suit challenging the criminal case is heard and determined.

"The hearing of the criminal case is temporarily suspended and the intended sentencing stopped until further directions from this court,” ruled Justice Odunga.

Shah was found guilty of two counts of illegally withholding documents and conspiracy to defraud a company of the 23-acre land along Mombasa Road next to the weighbridge in Mlolongo, within Machakos County.

The businessman was arrested and charged in April 2019 after losing a battle for the land’s ownership to Diesel Care Limited.

After his trial, Ms Onkwani on October 29 found him guilty of forgery and conspiracy to defraud. She set Friday for his mitigation before sentencing. But Shah appealed the judgment, leading to the order by Justice Odunga stopping the criminal case.

The dispute over the land’s ownership between Shah, his company and Diesel Care Limited lasted several years with all parties claiming ownership. But in January 2018, the Environment and Lands Court ruled in favour of Diesel Care Limited.

Justice Oscar Angote nullified a grant for the land that was held by Shah through his company, Megvel Ltd, and declared his title null and void. He then declared that the land belonged to Diesel Care Ltd. 

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