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Stephjoy fire suspects to remain in police custody

By Caroline Rwenji | August 11th 2015

Three boys suspected of killing their schoolmates by setting their dormitory ablaze will spend 10 days in police custody pending investigations.

The boys were arrested following the fire at Stephjoy Boys High School on August 3, which killed three boys and at least 10 others injured.

High Court Judge Grace Ngenye Macharia said the boys have already spent three days in custody and therefore detained them for 10 more as police probe the matter.

The boys' lawyer Eric Kinyua had sought to have them released on bail, saying they would not interfere with investigations as they are not allowed phones in school and have no way of contacting witnesses.

But Prosecutor Catherine Mwaniki asked the court to deny the minors bail as they would interfere with investigations if released as the witnesses were their dorm mates.

Mr Kinyua had further raised concern over detaining the minors alongside adults.

However, Ms Mwaniki said the boys were being held at Tigoni Police Station, where they are kept in separate cells from grown-ups.

She told the court the police needed more time to conclude investigations because the school had been closed after the tragic incident.

In her ruling, Justice Macharia declined to release the boys on bail, saying they were acquainted to the witnesses of the events of the fateful night and therefore they can look for them to interfere with investigations.

conducive cells

"In my view, they are acquaintances (the suspects and the witnesses) and once released they will be able to look for the witnesses. It is only prudent to give the police enough time to conduct their investigations," Macharia said.

She ordered that the three suspects be detained in conducive cells with mattresses and blankets provided. Macharia also issued strict orders only allowing the boys' parents, siblings and relatives to visit them. Any other adult, she said, must have permission from the parents. The boys will be arraigned in court not later than August 21 when they are expected to answer to the criminal charges.

The fire affected a dormitory that hosted up to 60 boys. Stephjoy Boys' is a private school with more than 400 students. Stephjoy Boys' sister school Stephjoy Girls was in the news two weeks ago after some students mysteriously vanished from the school and later returned.

Initially, 11 boys had been held at Tigoni police station but police isolated the three. Limuru DCIO Mwenda Etheiba told the Parliamentary Education Committee that the three were isolated pending charges.

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