17 May 2013

Kenya: Sonko Fires Assault Case Lawyers in Court

Nairobi Senator Gideon Mbuvi Sonko yesterday fired his lawyers in a Kibera court before the hearing of a case in which he is accused of assaulting Jomo Kenyatta Airport police officer Allan Shimoli.

Sonko fired Cliff Ombeta and Alphonse Mutinda, in their absence, after finding that they had asked the magistrate to postpone the case because they were engaged elsewhere. Lawyer Mary Wang'ele, who is prosecuting the case, told senior principal magistrate Lucas Onyina that Mutinda had written a letter to her saying he will not be ready to continue with the case as he was handling an election petition in Machakos.

Ombeta, who was in court, said he had another case at the Milimani law court and would not be available for Sonko's hearing.

Wang'ele told Onyina that she was ready to proceed with the hearing but agreed to an adjournment of the case.

But before the magistrate made a ruling, Sonko stood up and said he wanted to address the court.

Onyina declined his request saying that one of Sonko's lawyers was in court and could speak on his behalf. But the legislator insisted on speaking forcing the magistrate to give in.

Sonko said he had fired both lawyers and was ready to represent himself in the case. He also made an application for the prosecutor to disqualify herself "because they were playing some games with the matter" claiming that he is not likely to get justice.

He said the three are wasting time.

Sonko claimed that he had paid Sh120,000 as compensation to Shimoli.

The former Makadara MP said negotiations are ongoing and he is ready to compensate the police officer for damages and medical expenses incurred after the incident. He said he has documents to prove that he paid for the medical expenses of the officer.

Ombeta told the court that he had only received Sh50,000 from his Mutinda and that no money had been given to Shimoli. He said Sonko was lying about the negotiations with Shimoli.

After Sonko got rid of the lawyers, the case proceeded with the first witness, who is also the complainant taking to the dock. The officer said that on the fateful day- September 19, 2011, the police were expecting a huge crowd at JKIA because Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto were coming back from The Hague.

He said that a number of politicians including the now Kiambu governor William Kabogo, Sonko and former Embakasi MP Ferdinand Waititu had been accompanied to the Airport by their supporters. Shimoli said that the supporters insisted on using the VIP entrance but the police resisted causing a commotion.

He said that it was then that he was slapped and kicked by Sonko, who apparently was on crutches then. The officer said that he suffered bruises in the face from the multiple rings in Sonko's fingers. He later reported the matter to his boss and sought treatment at a clinic in the Airport.

The case postponed to August 17.

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