December 18th 2017

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MPs should remain in custody, court says

The high court this afternoon denied bail to the eight MPs who are under police custody on hate speech charges.

By Thomas Matalangatmatalanga@kenyafreepress.comThursday, 16 Jun 2016 14:20 EAT

The high court this afternoon denied bail for the eight MPs who are under police custody on hate speech charges. The MPs, who include a senator and two women representatives, will spend their third night behind bars after Justice Louis Onguto dismissed an application seeking their release pending hearing.

Justice Onguto said the eight legislators face relatively serious crimes (of incitement) and the court considered their big influence in society hence the refusal to release them in haste. The judge maintained earlier orders denying the eight bail.

The decision did not go down well with the lawyers representing the MPs. John Khaminwa urged justice Onguto to "invoke the power of the bench" and set the legislators free, but Justice Onguto said the issues raised by the lawyer would be well argued to the bad state their clients are in before the trial magistrate Ogembo.

A veteran of the fight against single party politics and arbitrary detentions, Khaminwa had urged the courts to release the MPs to show that it had not capitulated to the control of the executive. 

The eight legislators, Machakos senator Johnstone Muthama and MPs Kimani Ngunjiri, Ferdinand Waititu, Moses Kuria, from Jubilee, and Aisha Jumwa, Florence Mutua, Junet Mohammed and Timothy Bosire from the opposition CORD, were arrested Tuesday over allegations of hate speech.

Kuria, the Jubilee MP for Gatundu South, called for the assassination of opposition leader Raila Odinga, saying the political camp Kuria belonged to was tired of being obstructed by "one man." Ngunjiri called for the eviction of members of the Luo community from Nakuru County.

The CORD MPs, reacting to Kuria's remarks, threatened to mobilise their own communities in readiness for violence. They also threatened to storm police headquarters unless Kuria was arrested.

Justice Onguto also dismissed a case seeking to stop Chief Justice Willy Mutunga from going on voluntary retirement ahead of the end of the CJ's tenure. The judge said the case by petitioner Bryson Mangla was filled with contradictory admissions, myths and speculations. He said Mangla did not disclose any constitutional violations that would happen if the CJ retired as he planned. Mutunga vacates office today.

Matalanga is a student of journalism at the East Africa School of Media Studies and an intern writer at the Kenya Free Press.

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