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Babu Owino released in dramatic hearing amid claims of torture

Emabakasi East MP Babu Owino at a Milimani court on Thursday where the court relesed him alongside other suspects on a cash bail of Sh100 000 each in connection with Azimio demonstartions. [Collins Kweyu, Standard]

A magistrate’s court was yesterday treated to a circus as it released Embakasi East MP Babu Owino on a Sh100,000 cash bail or Sh200,000 bond.

 Before Milimani Chief Magistrate Lucas Onyina read his ruling on whether the State had made a case to detain Babu alongside his co-accused Calvince Otieno, Tom Odongo, Michael Otieno, Pascal Ouma, Kelvin Wambo  and Willy Owino, lawyer Ndegwa Njiru told the court that he had a grave issue he wanted to raise.

 At the time, Mr Ndegwa was submitting to the court on the alleged torture of his client inside Kileleshwa Police Station as Otieno, whose right eye socket was swollen, wiped tears. 

The lawyer said that at least 30 well-built persons had beaten up Otieno in the cells. Ndegwa, who was backed by lawyer Duncan Okatch, wanted the court to summon the Kileleshwa OCS. But Senior Assistant Director of Prosecution Victor Owiti urged Mr Onyina not to entertain the oral application.

Torture chambers

Mr Onyina went ahead and read the ruling, releasing the seven on cash bail or bond. Immediately thereafter, Ndegwa and Mr Okatch rose again, arguing in turns that the police had turned their cells into torture chambers.

While the lawyers were arguing, an agitated Otieno raised his left hand, seeking Mr Onyina’s attention. He then rose up and addressed the court in Kiswahili.

“My honour, huyo mtu, huyo jamaa ndiye alikuja na watu wakanipiga. Yeye ndiye alinipiga kofi ya kwanza (that man brought people that beat me. He was first to slap me),” claimed Otieno while pointing at the Investigating Officer, a Mr Kiprop.

The magistrate observed that Otieno, who is also known as Gaucho, had a swollen eye. He directed his lawyers to file an application and have the case mentioned next week.

After leaving court, the drama did not end there. Babu paid his cash bail but he remained at the Milimani Court basement cells.

The legislator explained that officers from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) planned to arrest him again immediately after he left the court premises.

“As we speak, DCI officers from headquarters and Nairobi Area are all here in court waiting to re-arrest me,” he says in a video shot from the Milimani Law Courts holding cells.

“If I leave the police cells within Milimani Law Courts they are planning to re-arrest me... anytime from now they are planning to re-arrest me but we shall still fight on. We know your plans but just proceed with them,” he said.

Mr Okatch immediately moved before High Court judge Diana Mochache to seek orders stopping his re-arrest.

“Unless this honourable court urgently intervenes and grants the orders sought in the instant application, the respondents will indeed be successful in utilising the criminal justice  system to illegally detain, embarrass, disrepute, and even harm the applicant herein,” argued Okatch.

Ms Mochache allowed Babu to go home on condition that he pays Sh100,000 anticipatory bail.

Journalists were earlier evicted by the police from the court premises with The Standard photographer Collins Kweyu assaulted after he protested when an officer hit him.

In a statement, the Judiciary condemned the act, saying the conduct of all just actors must at all times promote and uphold the rule of law and build public confidence in the justice system.

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