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Arunga charged with being member of unlawful sect

By | Published Thu, March 11th 2010 at 00:00, Updated Thu, March 11th 2010 at 00:00 GMT +3

By Evelyn Kwamboka

Former TV anchor Esther Arunga has been charged with being a member of an unlawful sect.

Ms Arunga yesterday pleaded not guilty a few days after she sued her parents and a psychiatrist and was released on a Sh20,000 cash bail.

Chief Magistrate Gilbert Mutembei ordered the prosecution to provide her with copies of witness statements it wishes to rely on in the case set for hearing on April 21.

Former TV anchor Esther Arunga at the Nairobi Law Courts, yesterday. She denied charges of membership in an unlawful sect and was released on a cash bail of Sh20,000. [PHOTO: EVANS HABIL/STANDARD]

The charge stated that on February 20, this year at Runda Estate in Nairobi, with others not before the court, she was jointly found to be a member of an unlawful society commonly known as Finger of God Church.

It is the same charge that jazz musician Nimrod Hellon Onyango, Quincy Zuma Timberlake and six others are facing.

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The prosecution said it intends to consolidate Arunga’s case and that facing the others.

Charge sheet

It also agreed to supply Arunga’s advocates with copies of all witness statements before the April 21 hearing.

Arunga and the others are out on bond, save for Timberlake, who the court declined to grant bail.

A few weeks ago, the Finger of God Church officials and members told the court the religious institution was registered in 2007.

Their lawyer, Harun Ndubi, said the certificate of incorporation was issued following a successful application that was filed at the Attorney-General’s office in 2002.

Mr Ndubi also claimed the charge sheet was defective.

But prosecutor Onesmus Towett argued the charge sheet complies with the law and speaks for itself.

He told court the registration certificate was for a company and not church, as purported by the defence.

The court ordered the suspects be detained at Muthaiga Police Station pending today’s ruling on whether the charge sheet was defective.

Arunga last week said she is married to Timberlake and that she was now called Esther Adongo Timberlake.

She then sued her parents for subjecting her to psychiatric tests but the case was dismissed on grounds it was a family affair.

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