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Police officer in murder charge freed over lack of evidence

By Robert Amalemba | Nov 2nd 2021 | 3 min read
Judge’s gavel [Courtesy]

A police officer charged with murder in 2018 has been set free for lack of sufficient evidence.

Harmony Somoni, who had just graduated from Kiganjo Police College, was accused of killing a driver at a roadblock at Adungosi, near the Kenya-Uganda border.

Justice Joseph Karanjah, of the High Court in Busia, ruled that although a ballistics expert testified that bullets were discharged from Somoni’s gun, there was no evidence that bullets that killed the driver were actually from his G3 rifle.

“Whereas Florence Karimi provided sufficient evidence showing the firearm which was used to cause fatal injury to the driver was functional, she did not provide any evidence showing that the bullets were fired from Somoni’s firearm,” ruled the judge.

“It cannot, therefore, be said Somoni caused the death by firing the killer shots. The evidence against him created suspicion but fell short of providing probative value for culpability against him.”

Just a month after graduating from Kiganjo, Somoni and his colleague Justus Andera, on May 31, 2018, were charged with the murder of Kelvin Wanyama following an alleged confrontation at the roadblock.

Ballistics tests indicated that Somoni fired four bullets at the vehicle and Andera, who died in the course of the trial, fired five.

In his defence, Somoni said he was just new on the job of guarding Adungosi police post and its roadblock when the unfortunate event happened.

“I had just passed out from Kiganjo, in April 2018, and was posted at Adungosi. It was while on duty that my senior, Sergeant Suleiman Mohamed, notified me that some stolen vehicles were about to be driven across the Kenya-Uganda border into Uganda,” Somoni said.

He added: “At about 10pm, one of the vehicles arrived with its headlights switched off. I stopped it and instructed the occupants to switch the lights on. They defied and instead reversed the vehicle.”

The officer said he was suspicious that the occupants of the Toyota Wish, UBB 534P, had the intention of driving off before the driver of the vehicle drove towards him, he said.

“I jumped to the other side of the road as the vehicle went over the metal spikes erected on the road. I fired a warning shot but the driver did not stop. The driver continued driving even as more bullets fired by my late colleague,” he said.

Somoni testified that a team from the police post offered back up and chased the speeding vehicle.

They later found the driver of the vehicle injured and lying on the road, 400 metres away. He was seriously wounded. Somoni said. He told the court that they took him to the hospital where he was pronounced dead due to excessive bleeding from gun wounds. The vehicle had overturned. The rest of the occupants, who were said to have been from a merry-go-round meeting, had fled.

“I did not kill the driver. I didn't even know that he passed away. The bullets that killed him were not from my firearm. His killing was unfortunate even though he (the driver) was the one who provoked the incident,” Somoni told the court.

After investigations, Independent Policing Oversight Authority officer Rashid Ngolo Wekesa concluded that Somoni and Andera shot and killed Wanyama.

A teacher, Michael Wanyonyi Okure who was at the roadblock, said Wanyama and a police officer talked at length when he (Wanyama) suddenly reversed the vehicle and drove off.

“The driver drove off amid gunshots fired by the police officers at the scene,” he said.

Wanyama’s passengers Simon Ogala, Vincent Wanekawo Maloba, and Pascal Ewakal Ekapolon all testified that Wanyama spoke to the two officers and he was signaled by one of the officers to drive on.

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