Some 27 KCSE candidates accused of irregularities an exam centre in Eastleigh got a reprieve on Thursday after a magistrate turned down police application to detain them for seven days.
The Directorate of Criminal Investigations had sought orders to detain them pending investigations.
Detective Christopher Samoei attached to Starehe DCI offices at Pangani police station had applied to hold the suspects at the station for seven days but Makadara chief magistrate Heston Nyaga freed them.
The suspects –all adult private KCSE candidates- were arrested at the St. Theresa’s primary school, where they were writing their Chemistry Paper 2 tests, after invigilators found them with mobile phones.
Samoei said the Starehe police and DCI commanders led officers to the centre where they searched and recovered 35 mobile phones.
He said the suspects had answer sheets for the chemistry test on their phones sent via WhatsApp.
The detective said the phones will be subjected to forensic analysis to retrieve the WhatsApp and text messages, obtain the examination papers from Knec and compare with those recovered from the suspects.
The messages will be used to retrogressively trace the origin of the examination materials.
He said if released, the 27 could jeopardise efforts to arrest their accomplices who are still at large.
But their lawyers Mohamed Noor and Ken Rutere objected the application to detain the candidates.
Noor said it was unfair to detain the suspects because they are not in a position to interfere with investigations.
Noor said the only items listed as necessary for the investigations include the phones – that are in the custody of police and the original question papers for Chemistry Paper 2 which are public and property of Knec.
Prosecutor Shandrack Otuke urged Nyaga to consider the balance between the DCI’s duty and the suspects’ right to sit for the remaining tests.
Nyaga released them on cash bail of Sh20, 000 each and directed that the suspects to be allowed to sit the remaining tests according to provisions of the law. They will each also avail a contact person to assure their attendance to court.
They will be appearing before Samoei for investigations as per the detective’s instructions. The case will be mentioned on November 28.