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Former soldiers facing life sentences denied bond

By Willis Oketch | March 22nd 2015 at 00:00:00 GMT +0300

Twenty six ex-soldiers condemned to life imprisonment by the court martial at Mtongwe naval base in Mombasa left the High Court in Mombasa crestfallen after their application to be freed on bond as they prepare to appeal the stringent sentences bore no fruit.

Some of the former soldiers, including an officer Lieutenant Jeffery Pepela, who have been held at Shimo la Tewa Prison, clasped their heads in shock, as Justice Martin Muya rejected their bid for freedom.

Justice Muya concurred with a recent judgment by the Court of Appeal in Malindi that soldiers on trial by the court martial have no right to bail.

“I find there is no unusual issues raised by the defence counsel to have the appellants released on bond pending appeal. I therefore reject the application and order the full hearing to go on,” said Justice Muya. He, however, ordered that a pre-trial conference be done on April 14 before the hearing of the appeal proceeds. The judge said this after the Assistant Director of Public Prosecution Alex Muteti successfully applied for it after the defence lawyers agreed with him.

The other lawyers in the case are Erick Mutua, Jared Magolo and Daniel Kamunda. One of the defence lawyers, Gikandi Ngibuini said there was no need of going to the Court of Appeal because the hearing of the appeal will be heard next month, which is not very far.

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“We are ready to argue our appeal. The court martial misinterpreted the law when they were jailing these people,” said Mr Gikandi. The soldiers in their appeal have argued that the court martial convicted them on defective charges because the alleged offence took place in 2007, under the old Armed Forces Act.

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