Githurai stripping suspects denied bail

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matatu+1012The crew of a Nairobi bus held for stripping and sexually assaulting a female passenger have been denied bail and ordered detained until the case is heard and determined.

A magistrate on Thursday declined to release Mr Nicholas Chege Mwangi and Mr Meshack Mburu Mwangi, driver and conductor respectively of the Githurai 44 bus in which the assault was carried out and recorded.

The two have also been charged with a capital offence stating they robbed the woman of personal effects amounting to Sh41,700.

The prosecution had opposed their release on bond stating that the possible punishment awaiting the suspects — the death penalty and a possible life sentence — may scare them away from attending the proceedings to their conclusion.

Prosecutor Duncan Ondimu also said their safety “may not be guaranteed outside the court’s jurisdiction, as the act had drawn public outrage” after a video clip showing the assault went viral.

“There are enough compelling reasons to deny the accused persons bail, more so in light of the aggravated nature of the offences they face,” Senior Principal Magistrate Lucy Mbugua said in a ruling on Thursday.

She said the sexual offences in count two were “gross and abhorrent, and undermines the values and morals of the society, generally, and an individual’s dignity, specifically.”

Senior Principal Magistrate Lucy Mbugua in court on December 11, 2014 when she declined to release on bail two men being held in connection to the stripping, assault and robbing of a woman in Githurai. PHOTO | PAUL WAWERU
Senior Principal Magistrate Lucy Mbugua in court on December 11, 2014 when she declined to release on bail two men being held in connection to the stripping, assault and robbing of a woman in Githurai. PHOTO | PAUL

Mr Chege and Mr Mwangi have been charged with robbing the 21-year-old woman on the night of September 19 and 20 at Millennium Petrol Station in Githurai, Nairobi. They are also charged with sexually assaulting her.

SIX REASONS

Ms Mbugua said she had six reasons to decline granting the suspects bond.

“The nature and seriousness of the charges facing the accused persons apart from the punishment awaiting them if they are convicted are among other reasons the prosecution argued for a denial of bond,” she said.

The magistrate added that a possible interference with witnesses and the undisclosed antecedents of the accused persons were more compelling reasons why she reached the decision.

“There is also the issue of public interest and the security of the accused persons which the prosecution said cannot be guaranteed outside the jurisdiction of this court,” she said.

“Bond is not an absolute right and in circumstances where it has been proven that there are compelling reasons for denial, it may not be granted, the presumption of innocence notwithstanding,” the magistrate explained.

The case will be mentioned on January 15.

Mr Harrison Kinyanjui, representing the suspects, said he was dissatisfied by the ruling and would lodge an appeal at the High Court. They have 14 days to appeal.

On Thursday, the magistrate ordered that copies of witness statements and exhibits be given to the suspects to prepare for the proceedings.

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