Monday, August 24, 2015

Mombasa High Court overturns desertion courts-martial

Remember the mass trial of Kenya Defence Forces personnel on charges of desertion based on the accused's acceptance of employment by private security firms? Read this from The Star:
In a stinging defeat for the state, the High Court in Mombasa yesterday freed 25 ex-soldiers sentenced to life imprisonment for desertion by a court martial. 
Judge Martin Muya acquitted the ex-soldiers and said the Kenya Defense Forces and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions had not proved they abandoned duty. 
They may had gone to work for private American security firms in the Middle East in 2007 and 2008 and had written letters of resignation.

"The charge of desertion has not been proved and the court has made a finding that they were only absent without leave," Muya ruled. 
"The ex-soldiers are hereby set free," he said. 
The judge refused a request by Assistant DPP Alexander Muteti to stay his judgement while the state appealed.
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The soldiers had argued that the offences of[] which they were convicted were alleged to have taken place in 2007, but the law they allegedly broke was enacted in 2012.
A detailed and at times moving account of the case appears here. There was a lot wrong with this prosecution. In the end, the accused were convicted of AWOL and sentenced to time served.

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