17 June 2017

Kenya: ODM's Steve Mbogo Awaits Ruling in Media Gag Case

A politician who escaped a 20-year jail term in 2011 after he appealed against his conviction for defilement will later this month know if his application to bar the media from covering the story is successful.

Mr Steve Mbogo, who is vying for the Starehe parliamentary seat as an Orange Democratic Movement candidate, filed a civil case at the Milimani Law Courts in Nairobi saying he was aware journalists were working on a story detailing the matter even though he was cleared following a High Court criminal appeal. He wants the Nation Media Group, The People, The Standard and The Star gagged.

"The defendants in cahoots with my political opponents have indicated to me through phone calls and text messages that they are working on an investigative story to link me to the defilement case in which I was cleared by the court over five years ago," Mr Mbogo swore in an affidavit filed at Milimani Law Courts.

AUGUST 2008

Details of documents obtained by the Nation indicate that the Kibera magistrate's court was in September 2011 convinced that Mr Mbogo was guilty of defiling the 15-year-old girl on August 3, 2008 at a rented apartment in Kileleshwa, Nairobi. His co-accused, a woman who was charged with destroying evidence, was set free.

The minor had alleged in her evidence to court that the incident happened when she went to Mr Mbogo's house to give him change after he had offered to buy olive oil for prayers at her parents' house within the same compound.

Responding to the defilement accusations, Mr Mbogo gave a different account, saying that on that day as he was escorting a pastor who had prayed for the girl's brother, the girl called and told him that her mother was forcing her to report to the police that he had defiled her.

Mr Mbogo said that at one time, the girl's mother asked for Sh500,000 to drop the case, which he bargained down to Sh300,000.

ELDER SISTER

The court was told that Mr Mbogo was dating an elder sister of the alleged victim and that, on many instances, their mother would ask him for money.

Mr Mbogo said that on the material day, the girl did not bring the change to his room but his driver did. The driver, a Mr Macharia, testified in defence of the accused, saying that at no time did the girl go alone to Mr Mbogo's room.

However, the magistrate dismissed the arguments of the defence, saying there were inconsistencies and that the evidence given by the girl and his mother was "truthful and credible".

Even though the defence poked holes in the medical reports done after the incident, the magistrate ruled that the evidence before her was sufficient for conviction.

BEHIND BARS

Then Kibera principal magistrate Frida Nyakundi sent Mr Mbogo behind bars in a judgment read on behalf of chief magistrate Uniter Kidullah.

But Mr Mbogo did not agree with the magistrate's decision and appealed at the High Court where he was cleared of the charges after the judges agreed with his defence. This has now formed the basis of his latest application.

"If that story is allowed to run it will cause the plaintiff untold suffering and prejudice since the general public will get the same through the defendants' complex network that the plaintiff cannot match in correcting," documents filed by his lawyer say. He says it is "just and equitable, and in the interest of fairness to the plaintiff, to restrain the defendants from running the said story".

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