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11 Ethiopians jailed six months for illegal entry

By Muriithi Mugo | April 23rd 2021
The magistrate directed the 11 be repatriated after the jail term. [Muriithi Mugo, Standard]

Eleven Ethiopians were on Friday sentenced to six-month imprisonment each for being in Kenya illegally.

The foreigners, who had been remanded at Embu GK Prison for lack of an interpreter, cried in court after Senior Resident Magistrate Jean Ndengeri delivered the judgment.

The magistrate directed the 11 be repatriated after the jail term.

Ndengeri found the 11 guilty of being in the country without valid permits and passports.

The 11 pleaded guilty through two interpreters – one from Amharic to Borana and the second from Borana to English and Kiswahili.

“The fine for the offence is Sh500,000 but since the accused might not have the money, I sentence them to six months in prison after which they would be repatriated back to Ethiopia," ruled Ndengeri.

The 12th foreigner, who was a minor, could not speak Amharic and was remanded at Runyenjes Remand Home.

The 12th foreigner, who was a minor, could not speak Amharic. [Muriithi Mugo, Standard]

The court directed the ODPP to write to the Ethiopian embassy in Nairobi to provide an interpreter on May 3 when his case will be heard.

The Ethiopians – eight women and four men – were arrested on April 19 at Kivwe along Embu Meru highway within Embu County.

The adult Ethiopians – Serait Mengestu, Fassika Shigute, Lulawit Benyene, Gebreala Asfeha, Soliana Mehari, Luwam Gebretensae, Muluk Seid, Fithawit Zerat, Natenae Gebremariam, Ekoby Emane, and Eshetu Alose – could neither speak English nor Kiswahili when they were first arraigned, forcing the court to defer the case.

In their defence, the 11 said they were fleeing from civil unrest in Tigray, Ethiopia, and therefore wished to seek asylum.

"The nearest countries to seek asylum from Tigray area are Sudan and Uganda and it is hard to believe that while seeking asylum, you would find yourself in Embu having bypassed all those other counties near the Kenyan border," said Ndeng'eri.

And two Kenyans –  a driver and his co-driver –  were released on a cash bail of Sh40,000 after they pleaded not guilty to charges of ferrying the 12 Ethiopians, contrary to the law. 

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