Two members of Mombasa Republican Council (MRC) who hacked four police officers to death on the eve of the March 4, 2013 General Election have been sentenced to hang.
Mombasa High Court judge, Justice Martine Muya said the prosecution proved beyond reasonable doubt that the two were part of the gang that killed the police officers.
“The prosecution has proved their case against Jabiri Ali Nduya and Bwana Mkuu Jabu beyond reasonable doubt and I therefore sentence them to death as is prescribed in the law,” ruled Justice Muya.
The judge acquitted two other accused persons, Badi Said Kassim and Omar Salim Juma, after the prosecution failed to link them to the brutal murders.
On March 4, 2013, MRC members killed Senior Superintendent Otieno Owuor, Chief Inspector Salim Kimutai Chebii, Constable Stephen Maithya and Constable Andrew Songira in Miritini, Changamwe in Mombasa.
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Yesterday, police officers present in court termed the ruling as “victory for the families of the deceased” but regretted the setting free of two suspects.
But Justice Muya said the two suspects were arrested in Kwale three weeks after the incident and the prosecution had not proved they were part of the killers.
He said although their phone records indicate they were in the vicinity of the attack, this did not mean they were part of the gang.
The two convicts appeared composed before the verdict was pronounced occasionally smiling to their family members. But they were shocked when the judged sentenced them to hang.
The prosecution led by Alexander Jamii vowed to appeal against the acquittal of Badi and Omar.
“None of the accused were identified at the scene of crime by any of the prosecution witness. However circumstantial evidence against the accused places them at the scene of crime and connects them to killings,” said the judge.
He said the circumstantial evidence demonstrates that the accused were part and parcel of a criminal gang who acted jointly with a common intention to prosecute unlawful purpose in conjunction with each others. The judge noted that in his defence, Bwana Mkuu confirmed that he is a member of MRC.
He said the attackers were wearing ribbons on their heads and wrist and were armed with bows, arrows and pangas.
A witness recounted how Maithya and Chebii were slashed on the head with a panga.
The witness said there was a shoot out between the officers and the attackers before the police were hacked to death.
Sgt Josephine Mwangandi was attacked at Mwithi polling station at around 10.40pm on the eve of March 4 General Election.
Another witness in the case testified that the leader of the group had a gun, which he used to open fire at the police.
The judge found that during the attack, a panga which was dropped by Jabiri before he was arrested by Owuor’s driver matched the DNA of constable Stephen Maithya whose body was found at the scene.
Muya said the prosecution had proved that the accused who were arrested at the scene were members of MRC who attacked the police officers while on duty during preparations for the General Election.
The judge found that the accused were arrested at the murder scene while wearing ribbons which were used by MRC to identify members.
“The prosecution has proved its case against the Ist and Second accused of murder beyond reasonable doubt,” the judge ruled.
He said during the arrest Jabiri who was the gang leader was found with an MRC card and a charm which was recovered from his pocket.
“The attackers were targeting the police officers who were executing their duties in preparation of March 4, 2013. It is an offense committed against voters who are free to elect their own candidate which is an accepted in a democratic society,” the judge said.
Muya said it was wrong for the accused persons to interfere with democratic rights of the others.
“Any organisation or an individual that pursues its goal that interferes with democratic rights of others cannot be accepted in any democratic society, he said. He noted that the attack on the police was brutal and those involved should face the law.
The judge said during the raid the police officers had gone to the scene following reports of violence before the group ambushed them.