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Nurse who spent 8 years in jail over abortion released

Health & Science
 Jackson Tali celebrates with his lawyer Martin Onyango after he was acquitted by the Court of Appeal in Nairobi on Thursday. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

A nurse who was sentenced to hang for helping a teenage girl procure an abortion has been freed after three years on death row and five in remand.

Jackson Tali, 44, became the first registered nurse to face the hangman’s noose in 2014 for procuring an abortion that led to the death of the girl and the foetus in 2009.

Court of Appeal judges Philip Waki, Roseline Nambuye and Kathurima M’Inoti saved Mr Tali from the death penalty, ruling that the evidence relied on by the High Court to convict him was not sufficient.

“On the whole, we are not satisfied that the offence of murder was proved beyond any reasonable doubt. All that was established was suspicion that he may have had a hand in the girl’s death but mere suspicion, however strong, cannot justify the death sentence,” the judges ruled.

Soon after the judges ordered him set free, Tali expressed regret that he was made to spend eight years in jail for doing his duty according to his profession.

He said the experience scared him, adding that he would not be in a hurry to go back to medical practice.

He has asked the Government to enact laws to govern safe abortions so that no one else goes through what he experienced at Kamiti Maximum Security Prison.

“The fact that I was charged and sentenced to death because of my work caused fear among nurses. People should realise we deal with human life and we should not be punished for what happens while we are performing our duties,” he said.

The incident that led to Tali’s imprisonment occurred in Gachie, Kiambu County, on July 27, 2009. The teenage girl, Christine Atieno, was in the early stages of pregnancy and living with her aunt.

She wanted to terminate the pregnancy and visited Tali’s clinic.

The prosecution said after realising the operation had gone wrong and that the girl was dying, Tali tried to take her to another hospital. She died inside the car.

Tali allegedly told police that a patient had died in his car while he was taking her to hospital. He was arrested and remanded at Kamiti.

“The appellant gave an elaborate defence explaining his interaction with the girl... but his evidence was given short shrift and dismissed by the trial court without proper and contextual analysis,” ruled the judges on Thursday.

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