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Mother pleads with Ruto to rescue son from execution in Saudi

 Bring Back Stevo Campaign Committee members led by Dorothy Kweyu Musopole, Chairman Joseph Odindo and Cyprian Amakalu addressing the media at Sarova Pan Afric Hotel, Nairobi on May 8, 2024. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

A family is in anguish with only a week left to save their kin from execution in Saudi Arabia.  

The family of Stephen Bertrand Munyakho is racing against time to raise Sh150 million to rescue him from the jaws of death. 

While acknowledging the efforts of the Ministry of Foreign and Diaspora Affairs and the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, the family pleaded with the government to intervene.

Munyakho's mother, veteran journalist Dorothy Kweyu, has appealed to the government to negotiate for an extension of the deadline to secure his release from prison. Ms Kweyu also pleaded with Kenyans of goodwill to help her family raise the funds to have her son who has been in jail for 13 years, released. 

"We are here to make an urgent appeal to Kenyans of goodwill to help us raise 3.5 million Saudi Riyals (approximately Sh150 million)," she said.

"That huge amount is the ‘blood money’ which must be paid before Stevo can be released. And the deadline for payment, which is fast approaching, is May 15, next Wednesday," she added. 

She spoke on Wednesday in Nairobi with the "Bring Back Stevo Campaign" committee.  

"The committee appeals to His Excellency, President William Ruto, to intervene in this matter. We urge him to apply his authority and influence to help secure the release of Stephen Munyakho, or plead for an extension of the May 15 deadline to give the family more time to raise the money," said veteran journalist Joseph Odindo, the committee chairperson. 

According to the family, Munyakho, 50, was convicted of murder of his colleague, Abdul Halim Saleh, after they were involved in an altercation while at work in Saudi Arabia in 2011. 

Initially, he was jailed for manslaughter but an appeal by the deceased's family in Shariah Court saw him handed a death sentence after charges were upgraded to murder. 

"Mr Saleh succumbed to injuries sustained in a workplace altercation between the two. Although Stephen -- who was injured too -- was initially sentenced to five years in prison for manslaughter, a Shariah court sentenced him to death following an appeal," Mr Odindo said. 

Kweyu says Saleh's family agreed to compensation which they initially set at Sh400 million. However, further negotiation between the two families would see the deceased family reduce the "blood money" to Sh150 million, an amount which the family now has until Wednesday next week to raise. 

She revealed that the execution was to happen in 2014 but was postponed until one of Abdul's five children who was only 5, reaches maturity age since they all have to consent to that form of justice. 

This means the youngest child may celebrate his 18th birthday this month by either consenting to have Munyakho executed or agree to extension of the deadline to allow the estranged family raise the required funds. 

So far, Kweyu said they have raised Sh5.5 million, which is "way short of the target." To bridge the huge deficit, the family has organised a funds-drive on Sunday.

They have also appealed to well-wishers to contribute virtually through Paybill No. 8056675 with your name as Account Number or via MPESA to +254 702 878717 (Dorothy Musopole).

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