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Activist Okiya Omtatah arrested over contempt of court

By Mercy Asamba | Published Thu, March 15th 2018 at 13:14, Updated March 15th 2018 at 14:34 GMT +3
Activist Okiya Omtatah during an interview. He was arrested over contempt of court. (File, Standard)

Police have arrested activist Okiya Omtatah over claims that he failed to appear in court for hearing of a criminal case against him.

Chief magistrate Francis Andayi ordered for Omtatah’s arrest on Thursday in a case in which he is charged alongside other 32 protesters.

The 33 were arrested in June 2011 for locking up the offices of former Education Minister Sam Ongeri, over the theft of some Sh4.8 billion Free Primary Education Funds.

In a statement, Omtatah says his absentia from the court happened after the magistrate failed to turn up by 10.00 am. He claims he informed the prosecutor that he had gone to attend to another matter at the High Court.

“By 10.00 am the Magistrate had not turned up. Since I had another case in the Employment and Labour When the Magistrate came in some 10 minutes later, he called out the file and upon being informed that I had gone to attend to a matter in the Superior Court, he refused to listen to the Prosecutor who had asked that my file be set aside until I returned, “he said.

According to the activist, the 33 were unlawfully held at the Industrial Area Prison for 10 days, and charged in 2011 without being put on trial.

He added they have since been effectively punished through a trial where they are supposed to appear in court every month for the case to be mentioned.

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 “A successful application I made to the Court for a copy of typed and certified proceedings so I could file a constitutional reference in the High Court was granted in 2014, but never acted on. The Court has refused to enforce its orders against its own staff who have failed to comply with the order, “he said.

The activist was still being held at Kilimani Police Station in Nairobi by Thursday afternoon.


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