NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 24 – The High Court on Monday ordered the release, on police bond, of three students held on suspicion of being behind the August 2 arson attack on Stephjoy Boys boarding school that claimed the lives of three of their schoolmates.
Justice Nicholas Ombija denied a prosecution application for a five-day extension of detention of the suspects who have already been in police custody for 21 days.
He challenged the state’s contention that the students would interfere with investigations which, he was informed, are at the analysis of evidence stage.
He found that the continued detention of the suspects, without charge, would be a violation of their rights especially as two of them (17 year olds) were yet to attain the age of majority.
Ombija left the bond release terms to the police explaining that he lacked the jurisdiction to set them as the suspects were yet to be formally charged with murder, as a Limuru court had been informed that they would before referring the matter to the High Court.
The boys’ lawyers opposed their continued detention, accusing the prosecution of making the application in contempt.
Lawyer Eric Kinyua told Justice Ombija that the prosecution had been given until Friday to charge or release the suspects which they had not by Monday and were therefore acting in contempt.
He also argued that it would be a miscarriage of justice should the boys continue to be held in police custody for an extended period of time and later face lesser charges than murder or no charges at all once the police concluded their investigations.
He also questioned why the school administration was not being held liable despite allegedly being forewarned about the intended attack.
While ordering their release, Justice Ombija cautioned the suspects against seeking to interfere with the police’s collection of information from other students who witnessed or were privy to the Stephjoy Boys arson attack or risk having their release order revoked.
The three students were among 11 taken into custody in the aftermath of the August 2 arson attack on a dormitory.
Eight were later released on August 6 after the police said they found no evidence linking them directly to the arson attack.