KENYA: TWO COPS TO SERVE 10-YEAR JAIL TERM AFTER SUCCESSFUL APPEAL
June 22, 2020:
The Court of Appeal on 19 June 2020 reduced the death sentence of two police officers convicted of murdering an Administration Police officer and two relatives of an MP. (Sources: The Star, 21/06/2020)
They will now serve 10 years in jail each, instead of the death sentence imposed by the High Court in Nairobi in 2018.
Constables Benjamin Changawa and Stanley Okoti shot dead Constable Joseph Obongo, who was attached to the late Bomachoge MP Joel Onyancha. They also shot the late legislator’s two relatives identified as Geoffrey Mogoi and Amos Okenye in Kangemi in October 2014. They used 12 bullets.
Appellate judges William Ouko and Agnes Murgor, on a majority ruling, considered that both officers were first offenders and breadwinners.
“In our considered view… their long public service, being 30 and 20 years respectively, their clean records of service with no disciplinary proceedings against them and the fact that they were both family men and breadwinners, we are minded to allow the appeal on sentence,” they said.
The three deceased persons were suspected of being robbers at a club in Kangemi and Changawa and Okoti, being the police on patrol, were called to the scene. They shot them dead.
According to the officers, however, they were aware they were facing armed robbers who declined to surrender, prompting them to open fire on them.
But the prosecution countered their argument, saying instead that two of the deceased persons surrendered, with one, the police officer, shooting up in the air.
At the High Court, Justice Stella Mutuku ruled that given the circumstances, the two police officers should have used a non-violent means to arrest the deceased persons. This came after a pathologist concluded that the trio died from gunshot wounds inflicted with high-velocity firearms.
“It's my view that the accused persons used force that was not proportionate to the objective to be achieved; that is, arresting the deceased persons,” Mutuku said.
She thus convicted the two constables of murder and sentenced them to death. Aggrieved, however, the officers moved to the appellate court to have the conviction quashed and the sentence set aside.
Before a three-judge bench, they claimed that the trial judge had not properly convicted them of murder. One judge rejected the appeal. However, Ouko and Murgor commuted the death sentence to a 10-year jail term.