NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 6 – Three students are to face murder charges in the High Court on Friday over the arson attack at Stephjoy Boys Christian Boarding School that left three of their colleagues dead.
The three appeared before Limuru Senior Principal Magistrate Godfrey Oduor on Thursday who directed the prosecution to arraign them before the High Court latest Friday after denying a police application to detain them for another three days without charge.
Acting for the prosecution, Bernard Ngetich had told the court that the time was needed in order to obtain approval from the Director of Public Prosecutions Keriako Tobiko for the charges, carrying out a medical assessment and to allow the government chemist time to analyse samples collected from the crime scene.
Defence counsel Eric Kinyua Maina challenged the application arguing that it would not take three days but only a couple of hours to carry out a medical assessment.
He also pointed out that the age assessment carried out by the police showed that two of the three students were under the age of 18 and their rights would be violated should they be subjected to needlessly lengthy legal processes.
“By law you can only hold a person without charge for 24 hours. They’ve had 72. If indeed the prosecution intends to charge them with murder, that should be done immediately,” he urged.
Oduor concurred and directed the prosecution to make any further applications before the High Court.
Eight of the students with whom the three had been detained following the fire were released to their parents on Thursday morning after police said they failed to find evidence directly linking them to the arson attack.
On Tuesday police had sought to detain the students for an additional five days without charge but were granted two days with a mention set for Thursday.
Those released into their parents’ custody on Thursday at the Tigoni Police Station were greeted with tears and hugs; clad in their school uniform with blankets around their shoulders.
The remaining three suspects, Oduor directed, were to continue being detained at the Tigoni Police Station ahead of their Friday High Court date.