, NAIROBI, Kenya, June 8 – The High Court on Monday ordered the release of political activist Tony Gachoka who spent the weekend in jail after failing to pay a Sh2 million fine before the courts closed for the weekend.
In releasing Gachoka, Justice Weldon Korir suspended the Sh2 million fine pending the hearing and determination of his appeal.
Gachoka and television talk show host Jeff Koinange were on Friday slapped with a Sh2 million fine after Resident Magistrate Maisy Chesang found that they had acted in contempt of court in a case pitting them against businessman Jimi Wanjigi.
Wanjigi has filed a defamation suit against the two for allegedly linking his Kwacha Group of Companies Limited to the Anglo-Leasing scandal on the Jeff Koinange Live show in contravention of an injunction.
Wanjigi therefore sought to have the two found guilty of acting in contempt of court.
Before finding Koinange and Gachoka in contempt, Chesang’ had ordered their arrest on May 13 for failing to honour a court summons to answer to the charges.
The two were later released on a Sh100,000 and a Sh50,000 shilling cash bail respectively but under protest that the jurisdiction for hearing contempt of court proceedings lay with the High Court.
Gachoka in his latest appeal therefore wants the lower court prohibited from presiding over Wanjigi’s suit any further and the matter moved to the High Court.
Beyond matters jurisdiction, Gachoka’s appeal also calls into question the conduct of Chesang’ with an affidavit sworn by lawyer Gitobu Imanyara on behalf of his client accusing her of acting in a vindictive manner.
“Hon Chesang delivered a ruling without hearing the actual application for contempt, convicted the applicant after 4pm despite the applicant having been present in court since morning and with the deliberate intention of denying the applicant any reasonable opportunity of raising the fine of Sh2 million or purging the alleged contempt upon which he had been convicted in complete breach of all rules of natural justice.”
Imanyara also questioned why Chesang’ handed down the Sh2 million fine with the alternative of six months in jail outside the public eye and only in the presence of counsel.