DPP plans to charge Obado with murder of foetus

Migori County Governor Okoth Obado talks to his lawyer Rodgers Sagana at Milimani court during bail application hearing where he is charged with the murder of Rongo university student Sharon Otieno 25/9/18-[Photo: Beverlyne Musili,Standard]

Migori Governor Okoth Obado could be in more trouble after the Director of Public Prosecutions indicated that he might charge him with a second murder.

Obado's troubles were worsened by Justice Jessie Lesiit’s decision to send him back to Industrial Area Remand Prison for another two nights pending determination of his bail application tomorrow afternoon.

The governor has denied a murder charge for the death of Rongo University student Sharon Otieno and her seven-month foetus.

The DPP opposed Obado’s release from custody, arguing that he was likely to interfere with witnesses, one of who has allegedly confessed to the murder of the 26-year-old.

State Prosecutor Alexander Muteti told the court that the DPP would at some point seek to amend the charge sheet to include the murder of Sharon’s foetus.

According to the prosecutor, the Constitution states that life begins at conception and that the State cannot overlook the fact that a second person was killed during the murder of the expectant mother.

“We are not only talking about Sharon but also her unborn baby and when the right time comes, we will seek to amend the charge sheet to bring more charges against the governor. It was the kind of gruesome murder that shakes the conscience of any man,” said Mr Muteti.

A postmortem report filed in court by the DPP showed that the 28-week male foetus had stab wounds in its right side.

The prosecution’s case was that from the injuries Sharon and her foetus suffered, there was a deliberate malicious intention to cause death of both the mother and the child.

A group of civil rights activists piled pressure on the DPP to charge Obado with two counts of murder, arguing that Sharon’s foetus was also a baby that was killed.

CitizenGO, a community-based organisation, said that life begins at conception and since Sharon’s baby was buried as a human being, the charge sheet should be amended to ensure justice for the baby.

Spirited fight

“We were surprised that the charge sheet presented in court had errors and omitted the fact that Sharon’s baby, who was recently buried and named after his mother, was also murdered,” said the group’s manager, Ann Kioko.

Obado’s lawyers - Nicholas Ombija, Cliff Ombeta and Rodgers Sagana - put up a spirited fight to have him freed on bail, arguing that he should be presumed innocent until proven guilty.

Mr Ombija, a former High Court judge, submitted that the governor had been subjected to unfair treatment and pleaded with Justice Lesiit to grant him favourable bail terms to enable him to go back to his duties as governor.

“He has already been tried, prosecuted, found guilty and convicted by the public. But we are asking the court to disregard all the falsehoods that have been peddled and wait for the real evidence that will prove his innocence,” said Ombija.

He argued that the prosecution had not presented any compelling reason to deny Obado bail and despite the fact that he was facing a capital offence, the Constitution allowed all accused persons to be released pending trial.

Mr Ombeta argued that the prosecution should not be granted more time to investigate the case because it had had all the time to evaluate the evidence before taking the governor to court.

He dismissed claims by the State that there was tension in Migori and that the governor’s release would cause chaos, stating that Obado’s influence in the county should not be used as a basis to deny him bail.

Recorded confession

“Even if the prosecution has a recorded confession, as they allege, it cannot be used as a basis to deny him bail and trample on his rights. The prosecution has missed its target of showing compelling reasons to deny bail,” said Ombeta.

Mr Sagana submitted that if the prosecution wanted to add more charges against the governor, the court would deal with that when the time came, but should consider that now Obado is only facing one murder charge.

Deputy DPP Jacob Ondari asked the judge to balance the right of the accused and the rights of the victims and her family, insisting that Obado has a lot of influence and would interfere with witnesses.