Kenyan Languishing in US prison on ‘Terrorist Threats’ Charges
When he left Kenya for Texas, US in 1997, Hemmingway Saisi was upbeat that at last his childhood dream of pursuing studies to become a pilot had finally come true.
But that was never to be. Soon after, he found himself entangled in complicated criminal cases ranging from a murder charge and allegations of making terrorist threats.
He was first arrested and charged with the murder of an African-American man, an offence that was later on reduced to reckless manslaughter for which he was given a suspended sentence.
Hemmingway did not like the outcome of his case. He felt that his lawyer did not perform to his as expectation -otherwise he could not have been convicted on the lesser charge of reckless manslaughter.
He had expected a complete acquittal.
He therefore launched a complaint to the American Bar Association(ABA), which is equivalent to the Law Society of Kenya.
On his own account, Hemmingway claimed he informed his lawyer, Anthony Gualano, of his disappointment about Gualano’s performance at the murder trial, and that he made it clear to him he intended to file a complaint against him.
Apparently stung by Hemmingway’s threats to expose him before ABA, the lawyer upstaged him and instead filed a counter claim of terrorist threats from Hemmingway.
Soon, Hemmingway who had previously served several years in custody on the murder charges was rearrested and detained on the charges of making terrorist threats against the American lawyer.
Hemmingway and his relatives both in Kenya and in New Jersey read malice on his latest troubles.
They claim that Gualano made these serious allegations on him in order to pre-empt his intended claim on the lawyer at the association.
In a Facebook posting, Hemmingway’s sister Jacqueline Kerubo Saisi claims that her brother was a victim of a witch-hunt.
"Hemmingway Saisi has been imprisoned since May 8, 2008 on a charge that he made a threatening phone call to his former attorney, Anthony Gualano. Gualano had been retained in a case, which he did so badly that Hemmingway Saisi complained to bodies such as the bar association," read part of the statement.
For close to four and half years, the Kenyan student has been languishing in a New Jersey psychiatric detention centre where his relatives allege that he is being beaten up and forced to take psychiatric medicine.
He is whiling away in foreign land at Ann Klein Forensic Centre, which treats clients with mental illnesses who are in judicial system.
It is not clear how and why the authorities in New Jersey are forcing a purported patient to take psychiatric medicine because it is against federal Laws of America to compel anyone to take such medication, complains Kerubo.
The family, through Kerubo, questions the rationale behind the New Jersey authorities purporting to spend over three years carrying out a psychiatric evaluation on her brother who at the time of his arrest was psychologically sound.
She claims that her constant conversation with her brother convinces her that he is still mentally sound and that the treatment he is being forced to take is well calculated to cause him brain damage.
In a conversation with The Standard from his captivity in New Jersey, Hemingway sounded coherent in his account of the pattern of events leading up to his current situation.
He said he went to America in 1998 to pursue studies at a Texas university in aeronautic sciences (piloting) but his studies were disrupted when he was arrested and charged with the murder.
His arrest stemmed from a domestic brawl that resulted into the death of an African American man.
He said that after he arrived in America, he got married to an African American woman with whom he had a baby boy who is now eleven years old.
After the birth of their son, he claimed that his wife started cheating on him.
"I discovered that the lady was involved in an inappropriate relationship with her paternal cousin. This led to a confrontation that ended fatally," he told The Standard in an interview.
Hemmingway claimed that the man who was having an illicit love affair with his wife was a convicted drug runner and that he had just come out of prison when he came to attack him.
"He galvanised the support of his gang members and attacked me while I was preparing to go to work," he added.
Hemmingway said the men beat him senseless.
In the struggle, according to him, his attackers who were armed with swords accidentally injured each other and one of them was fatally wounded leading to his death.
"When they attacked me, they were so vicious that it did not take long before they subdued me. However, I struggled to grab the sword that one of them was aiming at me. Unfortunately, the weapon aimed at me by the other attacker landed on his companion killing him. I sustained serious injuries including losing some of my fingers," he narrated.
Following the death of the man, Hemmingway was arrested and spent several years in custody awaiting the determination of his murder case.
After three years, he was found guilty of a lesser charge of reckless manslaughter but his sentence was reduced to time served in custody and he walked out a free man.
He then relocated to the State of Delaware.
After his release, Hemingway allegedly raised questions about his lawyer’s conduct during the trial of his murder case, accusing the latter of failing him at the trial.
"I spoke to him and expressed my disappointment that he did not do his job satisfactorily. However, he filed a false report to the police that I had made terrorist threats on him. The police came for me on those unfounded allegations," he said.
The police officers informed him that he had made the threats on his former lawyer on phone.
"I have asked them to provide the details but they have failed," added Hemmingway.
His family feels Hemmingway is a victim of malice and appealed to Kenyan authorities to demand that the US government ensures justice for him.
Kerubo told The Standard she had quit her job in London to camp in New Jersey to fight for her brother’s justice.
"My father died of stress related complications after he learnt of my brother’s tribulations in America," said Kerubo in a telephone conversation.
She said that she had expressed the family’s concern about the mistreatment of her brother, including the forcible administration of psychiatric medicines, but the authorities had not responded favourably.
Hemmingway claimed he was being forced to take dangerous drugs that might destroy his state of mind, saying at times they use injection-guns to administer the medicine.
"I am undergoing a lot of torture here…sometimes I am forced to drink my urine," he said on phone.
"It is a conspiracy by the US authorities to destroy my brother’s memory in order to convict him by default," his younger brother Wesley Saisi told The Standard in Kisii.
Hemmingway’s family wants the US government to either charge him or deport him back home.
"We have tried all avenues but we have not succeeded. My mother is depressed about the state of my brother," lamented Wesley.
Foreign Affairs Assistant minister Richard Onyonka said the Kenya Government was aware of the case.
"We are following up the matter through our Embassy so that we can get to the bottom of it," said Onyonka.