Court acquits MPs over hate speech charges

December 14, 2011 1:06 pm


The three were set free by Nairobi Chief Magistrate Gilbert Mutembei/FILE
NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 14 – Lawmakers Wilfred Machage, Fred Kapondi and businesswoman Christine Miller have been acquitted over hate speech charges.

The three were set free by Nairobi Chief Magistrate Gilbert Mutembei after he ruled that there was no sufficient evidence to convict them.

The court ruled that the content of a recording adduced in court failed to comply with provisions of the evidence Act.

The magistrate said there was no certificate of ownership of the recording, and the maker of the footage was not called to give evidence.

“Contents of the recording was not produced according to law and therefore inadmissible as evidence. After weighing and evaluating the evidence adduced in court against the suspects the prosecution failed to comply with provisions of evidence Act in production of the electronic recording,” he ruled.

He further observed that eye witnesses who appeared before the court said they did not hear the accused persons utter the contentious statements.

Four witnesses were called by the prosecution to give evidence.

The accused persons were charged with uttering words intended to stir up ethnic hatred during last year’s referendum the campaigns.

The offenses were allegedly committed at Upper Hill Nairobi on June 9, 2010 during the launch of the No secretariat.

Denying the utterances amounted to hate speech, Machage in his defense claimed he was charged with hate-speech for taking a position against the Government during last year’s constitutional referendum campaigns.

Machage believed that he was punished for taking that position and maintained the remarks he made during his one hour speech were meant to caution Kenyans from passing the draft Constitution before contentious issues were amended.

Machage said he campaigned against the draft Constitution because the chapter on land which allows historical injustices to be addressed since 1895 would be a prerequisite for danger and disharmony in the country.

Kapondi and Miller had also defended themselves saying their speeches were misinterpreted and alleged the video clips which captured the event was not representative of what they said.

The charges against them were instituted by the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC).

The NCIC had demanded they make a public apology over the remarks as a condition to have the charges dropped.


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