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Court quashes conviction of 4 charged with heckling Kibaki

07 March 2014, 08:16 Millicent Kawii

Nyeri - A conviction against four men who had been fined KES 30,000 in 2010 for heckling the then President Mwai Kibaki has been quashed by the High Court in Nyeri due to lack of proof.

Simon Mureithi, Joseph Maina, Elijah Mwai and Charles Mwangi were found guilty of creating disturbance in a manner likely to cause breach of peace by Chief Magistrate Lucy Gitari on May 6, 2010 and sentenced to six months imprisonment with an option of a KES 30,000 fine.

The accused paid the fine and were released but appealed against the conviction.

The magistrate found them guilty of shouting and heckling the former president at Muthua estate in Nyeri and ordered them to pay a fine of KES 30,000 or face the jail term.

“The magistrate formed the opinion that the act of waving placards was a disturbance likely to cause breach of peace and that the appellants’ defense was mere denial,” noted Justice Joseph Sergon in his judgment.

The Judge said that all the prosecution witnesses admitted before the trial court that they personally know the appellants.

He also noted that no witness gave a physical description or names of the appellants and two witnesses merely said the appellants were common figures in Karatina town.

The Judge noted that there was no explanation on where or how the appellants were arrested adding that the standard of proof in criminal cases is that of beyond reasonable doubt.

The High Court also noted that the witnesses said the appellants started heckling and shouting when the then MP Ephraim Maina was called to address the gathering.

In their appeal, the four claimed that the magistrate erred in failing to find the prosecution had not proved its case beyond reasonable doubt to show they shouted and heckled the President.

Prosecution had presented six witnesses who said that there was a Presidential function to launch the construction of the Kiamariga-Kabiruini road on December 6 2008.

Inspector Kennedy Rucho had also testified saying he saw people with placards which were inscribed “Mathira CDF, lying in the bank, help Sir,” in front of the presidential dais.

He said that he approached the group together with his colleagues and identified them but could not arrest them immediately.

The officer said that he embarked on arresting the people they had identified adding that they were common figures in Karatina town.

The appellants denied the charges claiming they were not at the function but the magistrate concluded the prosecution had tendered overwhelming evidence placing them at the scene.

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