19 acquitted of violence charges
By Peter Mutai
A court has set free 19 youths charged with taking part in riots during post-election violence.
Kericho Senior Resident Magistrate Jacinta Kwenah said on Tuesday evidence produced was insufficient.
She said the police failed to establish a case against the accused and the court could, therefore, not put them on their defence.
"The court has carefully considered the evidence and facts of the case and the answer is that none of the 19 accused persons has a case to answer," she said in her ruling.
The acquittal came barely a day after Kanu leaders led by Mr Gideon Moi called for the release of more than 40 youths they said were languishing in remand homes.
The suspects had denied two counts of taking part in a riot and causing malicious damage to the vehicle of Bureti DC.
In her ruling, the magistrate said the prosecution has the duty to prove the case beyond reasonable doubt.
She pointed out that witnesses told the court that the scene of crime had more than 200 people, but only 19 were arrested. The suspects had denied rioting and damaging the windscreen of the vehicle at Ngoina trading centre in Buret District on January 31, last year.
The suspects are Mr William Bore, Ms Lillian Baragoira, Mr Bernard Tanui, Mr Richard Milgo, Mr Duncan Rotich, Mr Japheth Rotich, Ms Joyce Rotich, Ms Betty Cheruiyot, Mr Eric Rono and Mr Clement Maritim.
Others are Wesley Sigei, Jane Maina, Geoffrey Kipkurui, Isaac Ngetich, Robert Kandie, Rose Kimetto, Leonard Chepkwony, Evaline Mutai and Jennifer Mutai.
"The court takes cognisance of the fact that at the time, there was unrest everywhere," the magistrate said.
She said it was nearly impossible for witnesses to convince the court that the accused were the people who rioted.
"It is impossible to identify 19 people among a rowdy group of 200 people. This is a case where arrests were made in houses where the crowd is purported to have escaped to," she said.
The magistrate acquitted the suspects under Section 210 of the Criminal Procedure Code, which allows a magistrate or a judge to release suspects without being put on their defence due to lack of evidence.
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