Eighteen soldiers sentenced to life imprisonment by court martial at Kenya Navy Mtongwe base for desertion, have accused Chief of Defence Forces CDF General Julius Karangi of frustrating their effort to appeal their sentences at the High Court in Mombasa.
The soldiers, who have been in police and military custody since February last year, lamented that the Kenyan military had refused to comply with court orders requiring it to supply the soldiers with proceedings of the courts martial to enable them expeditiously launch their appeals.
They were jailed after being convicted of deserting the Kenyan military “during war time”, a charge they contest and they seek to appeal the verdict, saying that Kenya was not at war when they left the military in 2007 and 2008. They also allege they were wrongfully tried under the Kenya Defence Forces Act of 2012, after leaving the military under the Kenya Armed Forces Act.
Yesterday, their lawyers said Karangi should be held responsible and cited for contempt of court for the failure of his junior officers to respect or enforce court orders.
The soldiers were brought to an open court for the first since their arrest in February last year on arrival from Afghanistan, Iraq and Kuwait where they sought employment with US security.
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Last month, Justice Martin Muya ordered they be produced in his civilian court yesterday to enable their lawyers apply for the consolidation of their appeals against the convictions.
The judge also ordered the military to supply the convicts with court martial proceedings to enable them launch the appeal.
These documents were, however, were not produced yesterday prompting the accusations by the convicts.