NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 25 — The State on Tuesday said it will amend charges facing Governor Okoth Obado to include the murder of a seven-month old foetus, 26- year-old Rongo University student Sharon Otieno was carrying when she was killed on September 3.
Senior Assistant Public Prosecutor Alexander Muteti made the revelation when Obado’s lawyers challenged him for citing the murder of the unborn child, which was not formally submitted to the court when the Migori county chief was charged with Sharon’s murder on Monday.
The amendment will be premised on Article 26 of the Constitution which provides for the right to life.
Article 26 (2) further provides that, “the life of a person begins at conception.”
Muteti gave the indication even as he presented Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji’s objection to a bail application by Obado on grounds that he could interfere with witnesses.
Obado had pleaded not guilty to murder when he was charged on Monday.
In an affidavit by Clement Mwangi, a detective attached to the homicide section of the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI), the State said there was a high likelihood of Obado interfering and intimidating key witnesses in the murder trial.
According to Mwangi, detectives were still compiling further information including an impending interrogation of county staff, and Obado’s family members.
“The release of the accused person on bail pending hearing and determination of the trial is not absolute and is at the discretion of the court,” Mwangi pleaded.
Further, the prosecution said Obado’s release could pose extreme danger to witnesses in the matter and the society at large.
Mwangi also indicated in his affidavit that Sharon’s family is under threats and intimidation.
He told the court the threats on the family of the slain student are believed to be originating from Obado.
Mwangi also said detectives were seeking hit men who are still at large.
He told the court there was evidence linking the three to the commission of the murder.
“Investigations reveal that the State has a very strong case and the accused and his accomplices,” the prosecution told the court.
Lawyers Roger Sagana and Cliff Ombeta faulted the Directorate of Public Prosecution for seeking to shut down the application, yet it did not make an application to further detain Obado.
Ombeta cited Article 49 (1) (h) of the Constitution which provides for the release of arrested persons, “on reasonable conditions, pending a charge or trial, unless there are compelling reasons not to be released.”
The court had convened minutes past 3pm as Obado returned to the High Court to persuade Lady Justice Jessie Lessit of the Criminal Division to release him on bail pending his murder trial.
Lady Justice Lessit Monday ordered Obado to be held at the Industrial Area Remand center after he denied murdering Sharon, whose body was found at a forest in Homa Bay on September 4.
Public Prosecutor Noordin Haji had in a statement Sunday indicated the decision to charge Obado with the murder was made after it emerged that the governor could have been unhappy with Sharon’s pregnancy which had resulted from an intimate relationship the two had.
A DNA test conducted on Sharon’s seven-month-old foetus confirmed Obado to be the father of the unborn child.
Obado who had admitted to having had an affair with the Rongo University student, was arrested by detectives working on the case on Friday last week, two days after the outcome of the DNA test.
Findings of a postmortem examination of Sharon’s body released on September 7 had indicated that the university student had succumbed to excessive bleeding having been stabled eight times, strangled and raped.
Obado became the second person to be charged with Sharon’s murder contrary to sections 203 and 204 of the Penal Code, an offence that attracts a death penalty upon conviction.
“Any person who of malice aforethought causes death of another person by an unlawful act or omission is guilty of murder. Any person convicted of murder shall be sentenced to death,” the sections read.
His Personal Assistant Micahel Oyamo has been charged with a similar crime in contravention of the same sections of the Penal Code.
Another aide of the county chief, Caspal Obiero, has charged with aiding and abetting the commission of the murder, a crime for which he could be sentenced for up to fourteen years in jail if convicted.
Obiero was said to have been in possession of his wife’s car which was used to abduct Sharon and a Nation journalist Barack Oduor who escaped and reported the matter to Kadel Police Patrol Base.
The investigation further indicated that the car’s tracking system had been switched off the day the murder occurred and reactivated the following day – September 4.
According Haji, detectives from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) were pursuing the hitmen who acted with the three suspects who have so far been charged and other persons named in witness accounts.
So far DCI is probing former Kanyadoto Member of County Assembly Lawrence Mula, Obado’s personal bodyguard, Eliud Okoth Omondi, and taxi operator Jack Gombe.
Gombe was arrested after he was identified to the person who drove the vehicle used in the kidnapping of Sharon and the Nation newspaper journalist on the eve of the murder.
The newspaper reporter had told the police that four unidentified staged the abduction along Homa Bay Road.
According to the journalist, he in the company of Sharon had met Oyamo prior to the abduction.
Oduor and Gombe – the taxi driver – have so far been earmarked as key witnesses in the murder case.