25 Kenya Navy Soldiers Facing Life Imprisonment for Desertion

  • The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) on Wednesday asked the Court of Appeal to issue a life sentence to 25 soldiers accused of desertion.

    Citing that Court Martial had already issued the sentence, the DPP argued that any leniency would deter the military court in its endeavour to instil discipline among soldiers.

    The DPP pleaded to have the Appellate court overturn a previous ruling by the High Court that acquitted the individuals who deserted in 2008.

    "The applicant is apprehensive that if the decision of the superior court is left unchallenged, it will not only set a bad precedent but also curtail the powers of the court-martial as a disciplinary mechanism of the military forces.

    [caption caption="File image of soldiers appearing before the Court Martial"][/caption]

    "It will also visit great uncertainty to the forces as to what constitutes the offence of desertion as opposed to that of absence without leave," Principal Prosecution Jami Yamina argued.

    He further stated that High Court Judge Martin Muya had erred in freeing the accused soldiers who are said to have left the Kenya Navy to work for United States security firms.

    The 25 reportedly joined the US security firms to collect intelligence in Afghanistan, Iraq and Kuwait.

    Justice Muya had reasoned that the prosecution had failed to prove its case in court, adding that the soldiers had not deserted duty because Kenya was not at war at the time.

    Senior Assistant DPP Alexander Muteti noted that the Judge's reasoning was pegged on wrong assumptions and altogether changing the charges against the 25.

    "The resulting miscarriages of justice resulted in the substitution of the conviction for the offence of desertion to that of absence without leave," Muteti pointed out.

    Yamina added: "In delivering the consolidated judgment in which the Judge acquitted the ex-soldiers, the court failed in its duty to carefully examine and re-evaluate the entire record of the trial before the court-martial."

    [caption caption="Accused soldiers appearing before Court "][/caption]

    Court of Appeal Judges Alnasir Visram, Wanjiru Karanja and Martha Koome adjourned the hearing to reconvene in 10 days after counsel requested time to review new evidence.