Kenyan lawmakers charged for hate speech and incitement
17 June 2016, 20:02
Nairobi, June 17, 2016 (AFP) -Eight Kenyan politicians were charged Friday with hate speech and incitement to violence following public comments and calls to supporters made in recent days.
Three lawmakers from the ruling Jubilee party, and four plus a senator from the opposition CORD alliance, denied the charges at Nairobi's Milimani Law Courts.
Police guarded the area around the court where supporters had gathered.
The detained Jubilee MPs, Moses Kuria, Kimani Ngunjiri and Ferdinand Waititu, are loyalists of President Uhuru Kenyatta and members of his Kikuyu tribe.
The CORD politicians are MPs Timothy Bosire, Aisha Jumwa, Junet Mohammed and Florence Mutua, and senator Johnson Muthama.
All eight were arrested on Tuesday and have been held in custody since with Chief Magistrate Daniel Ogembo warning their power and influence meant they might interfere with investigations.
Prosecution lawyer Leonard Maingi on Friday argued the eight should be refused bail as they would likely repeat the alleged offences if allowed out.
"The court must strike a balance between the right to bail and public interest, and in so doing should deny the accused bail for the duration of the trial," he said.
The judge was due to rule on the bail applications later on Friday.
Jubilee MPs Kuria and Waititu are accused of making public statements threatening the life of opposition leader Raila Odinga, a Luo, while Ngunjiri is said to have called for Luos in the central town of Nakuru to return to western Kenya, their traditional homeland.
On the CORD side Mohammed, Mutua and Muthama are accused of inciting the storming of police headquarters, while Bosire and Jumwa are alleged to have predicted chaos and violence as a result of Kenyatta's failure to unite the country in the wake of widespread and deadly political violence following the 2007 elections.
Tensions are already rising ahead of elections due in August 2017.