AG wants SkyDive Diani suit dismissed, says they failed to disclose military training

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AG wants SkyDive Diani suit dismissed, says they failed to disclose military training

PHOTO | COURTESY
Attorney-General Paul Kihara wants an application by a skydiving club challenging the government’s decision to stop its operations struck out. FILE PHOTO | COURTESY 

Attorney-General Paul Kihara wants an application by a skydiving club challenging the government’s decision to stop its operations struck out.

The AG argues that SkyDive Diani Club failed to disclose in its suit documents that it was involved in the training of foreign security officers.

Through litigation counsel Nguyo Wachira, the AG argued that SkyDive Diani club did not disclose that it had been paid by a foreign government to conduct air force training.

“The air force training conducted by the applicant (SkyDive) violated Section 65 of the Penal Code,” argued Mr Wachira.

Mr Wachira further argued that the activities of the club led to the issuance of a notice by the Kwale County Commissioner Mr K J Ngumo to SkyDive Diani Club on March 10 to cease all skydiving activities at its premises until further notice.

In his affidavit, Inspector Wesly Lagat of the Directorate of Criminal Investigations said according to investigations carried out after opening of an inquest file, they revealed that military officers were attending a skydiving course conducted by the club’s chairman, Mr Gary Lincoln.

“The training was illegal since the trainees were Zambian/foreign military men on Kenyan soil and the (Kenyan) government had not been informed of the training,” said Mr Lagat.

According to Mr Lagat, the Zambian Air Force paratroopers indicated that the Zambian government had paid money to Mr Lincoln and Diani SkyDive to train them.

A Zambian soldier is reported to have died while skydiving in mid February this year, prompting the government to issue a letter to the club to stop its activities.

In its application, SkyDive Diani Club wants the court to quash a decision issued by the Mr Ngumo, the county commissioner, directing it to cease all skydiving operations at its premises.

The skydiving club also wants a declaration that the decision of the county commissioner and the ministry of interior demanding cessation of skydiving and parachuting activities is invalid, void and of no effect.

SkyDive Diani club also wants a declaration that the Interior ministry pays it US dollars 36,000 (Sh3.6 million) with interest, being the money it lost as at April 14 in lost memberships, an amount that continues to grow as more members are lost.

The club says it has been in operation from December 2013, creating a new niche in sports tourism with a value equal to about 7.68 billion dollars.

In his affidavit, Mr Lincoln argued that there is a difference between military parachute training and civilian sports skydiving, which the club is engaged in.

Mr Lincoln said military parachuting is about landing as quickly as possible while sport skydiving is concerned with spending as much time as possible in freefall to maximise on the period of time the sky diver enjoys in the air.

According to Mr Lincoln, the club communicated with the Zambia Air Force headquarters prior to the arrival of the Zambia military personnel.

He said the air force assured them that they had acquired all necessary permissions for them to come into the country.

“As civilians in Kenya, Skydive Diani was not privileged with access or communication between the governments of Zambia and Kenya for the assurances to be qualified as a fact,” said Mr Lincoln who is a former British Army soldier.

Mr Lincoln said that over 50 Kenya Defence soldiers are members of the club receiving same facilities at a fee.

Justice Eric Ogola is expected to deliver a ruling on June 19.

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