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Didmus Barasa charged with murder, ruling on bail today

Kimilili MP Didmus Barasa at Kakamega High Court today [August 24, 2022] where he pleaded not guilty to shooting and killing Brian Odinga Olunga. [Benjamin Sakwa, Standard]

 The High Court in Kakamega will rule on whether to free Kimilili MP-elect Dismus Wekesa Barasa on bond after pleading not guilty to the murder of his rival’s driver Brian Odinga Olunga.

Justice Patrick Otieno will rule on the bond application by the United Democratic Alliance MP-elect at 3 pm today after he prayed to be freed on lenient bond terms as he was "only a suspect and needed to dispense his duties once sworn in as MP".

In a black long-sleeved jacket and missing his signature red fez, the soft-spoken Barasa pleaded not guilty to the murder of Brian Odinga Olunga on August 9, at Chebukwabi village in Kimilili.

Brian Olunga was an aide to DAP-K’s Brian Khaemba who lost the battle for the Kimilili parliamentary seat to Barasa.

Prosecutors Peter Kiprop and Grace Mukangu told the court that the MP was facing serious charges that call for stringent bond terms to ensure he attends court.

"He carries considerable influence, especially in Kimilili where the offence happened. We pray should the court grant him bail, he subsequently surrenders his gun and passport besides  pledging not to interfere or contact witnesses in this case," pleaded Ms Mukangu.

The State also applied for orders barring Barasa from visiting Kimilili until the 23 witnesses against him have testified.

Barasa's lawyers had reservations about barring the MP, a licensed gun holder, from using the gun and surrendering his passport.

Lawyer Nathan Tororei said that a Nairobi court was handling a case about the MP’s ownership and handling of a gun; that further orders on the same would be conflicting.

He additionally said that the MP's duties entailed travelling out of the country frequently and the withdrawal of his passport would affect his delivery of services to Kimilili residents.

They said that the MP voluntarily surrendered to Bungoma police when requested and that he should be treated to lenient bond terms preferably a cash bail as he was not a flight risk.

Barasa presented himself at the Bungoma Police Station on August 12, after the DCI boss George Kinoti gave him an ultimatum to surrender following the August 9 shooting of the young man.

Mr Olunga was buried in Malava, Kakamega County last Saturday where his mother Lonah Odinga and other relatives called for speedy justice for the cold blood killing of their kin.

Barasa recaptured his seat after garnering 26,861 votes against DAP-K’s Brian Khaemba’s 9,497 but the Kimilili Returning Officer George Omondi refused to hand over the election certificate to some agents who purported to represent him.