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Governor Obado free due to 'lack of evidence'

By Paul Ogemba | October 25th 2018
Lady Justice Jessie Lessit who presided over the Obado's case at Milimani High Court. [Beverlyne Musili,Standard]

The failure of the Director of Public Prosecutions to directly link the Migori governor to the murder of university student Sharon Otieno helped secure his release from remand.

But Okoth Obado's freedom yesterday did not come easy as Justice Jessie Lesiit issued tough bail conditions (see separate story).

Obado walked to freedom after 33 days in detention when Justice Lesiit ruled that there was only circumstantial evidence linking him to the murder of Sharon and her unborn baby, and which could not be used as sufficient reason to deny him bail.

“Although the court cannot make conclusive findings of the evidence supplied at this juncture, I find that there is only circumstantial evidence referring to the first accused (Obado). It would therefore be dangerous now to use that kind of evidence to deny him bail,” ruled Justice Lesiit.

Obado, who was dressed in a blue suit, a light blue shirt and matching tie, had arrived in court shortly after 9am. His relief was evident from his smile and clenched fist in the air, clear signs that he would not miss brushing shoulders with some of the country’s most hardened criminals

Hundreds of his supporters, some of whom had travelled from Migori, braved the morning showers in Nairobi and broke into song and dance after the ruling.

The judge said she was persuaded by the arguments of Obado’s lawyers - Nicholas Ombija, Cliff Ombeta and Rodgers Sagana - that it would be unfair to continue detaining the governor when none of the prosecution’s 24 witnesses directly linked him to the murder.

“We have perused the committal bundles and all witness statements, but there is nowhere the first accused is mentioned in relation to the murder. He was only arrested and charged out of public pressure after the incident,” said Mr Ombija.

But it was a different story for Obado's co-accused - personal assistant Michael Oyamo and Migori County clerk Caspal Obiero - who Justice Lesiit denied bail on grounds that there was a strong case against them.

According to the judge, the prosecution’s evidence directly linked Oyamo and Ojwang' to Sharon’s murder, and releasing them would give them leeway to escape to avoid the death sentence if found guilty.

“There is strong evidence against the second and third accused. Releasing them now will send anxiety to witnesses. There is also a likelihood of them absconding based on the seriousness of the charge."

Justice Lesiit's decision means the two will have a long stay in remand after the hearing was set for two weeks from May 6 to May 17 next year.

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