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Boniface Mwangi set free over Finance Bill demonstrations


Human rights activist Boniface Mwangi and two others arrested on Tuesday while leading demonstrations against the contentious Finance Bill, 2024, were on Wednesday freed unconditionally after the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) failed to prefer any charges against them.

Mwangi, Ngatia Kimathi, and Mathias Shipeta detained at Milimani Law courts inside a police Subaru vehicle at the parking lot for hours were released by police a few minutes to 4 pm after the DPP wrote a letter stating that police had no evidence to warrant charging the trio.

The three had been arrested for creating a disturbance in a manner likely to cause a breach of peace contrary to section 95 (1) of the Penal Code and taking part in an unlawful assembly contrary to section 78 of the criminal procedure code and dragged to court premises.

However, the DPP wrote to the officer investigating the case Senior Sergeant Walter Oyel of the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI), Kamukunji Police Station, stating that there was no evidence to charge them.

“For the offence (of creating a disturbance) to be adequately proven, the prosecution must show that there was a brawl, caused by the accused persons or that the accused created a disturbance in such a manner as is likely to cause a breach of the peace,” stated assistant director of public prosecutions Dorcas Rugut.

She said that the evidence adduced by Oyel demonstrated that the suspects were carrying placards and it has not been demonstrated that their mannerisms created a breach of peace.

In the second count where police accused the activists of taking part in unlawful assembly together with others, Rugut said the charge sheet did not disclose the offences that the three intended to commit.

“In the alternative, no evidence has been presented to show that when the suspects so assembled, conducted themselves in a manner that caused reasonable fear that a breach of peace had or was likely to occur,” Rugut said.

“Further, the evidence presented also does not state that as a result of the 'unlawful assembly' any report of theft, loss and or destruction of property was made,” she added.

The senior prosecution counsel said a upon perusing OB/64a/18/06/2024, five suspects were arrested and placed in the cells but only three names appear on the draft charge sheet.

“The statements in the file only refer to three names begging the question of what happened to the two other suspects. Consequently, the DPP directs that the evidence presented does not meet the evidential threshold to warrant the approval of the proposed charges,” said Rugut while dismissing the file together with the charges.  

Their lawyers Hosea Manwa and Stephen Mbungua together with other activists camped inside the court premises demanding the release of the three activists.

Manwa had demanded the three be released since the government was not ready to charge them.

But Milimani Chief Magistrate Bernard Ochoi said he could not deal with the matter that was not properly before him and told the lawyers to wait for what the DPP will decide.

A few minutes after the court decision, the three were released.

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