Kenya: Omwenga Murder - Suspects Chris Obure and Robert Ouko Freed on Bail

21 September 2020

The High Court in Nairobi has released Chris Obure and his security guard Robert Bodo Ouko, suspects in the murder of car dealer Kelvin Omwenga Ombati, on bail.

Mr Obure and Mr Ouko, who have spent about one month in police custody, will pay Sh2 million and Sh500,000, respectively.

The two were arrested on August 21 after Omwenga was murdered in his house at Galana Suites in Kilimani, Nairobi.

They denied the charge earlier and were granted release on Monday by Justice Jessie Lessit, who directed them to deposit two sureties of the same amount as the cash bail.

The judge imposed terms such as barring the accused from contacting any of Omwenga's relatives or a prosecution witness.

They were also ordered to surrender their travel documents to the court and file affidavits declaring their respective places of residence.

Justice Lesiit further barred the accused from owning or holding a firearm during the pendency of the case and said any gun in their custody should be surrendered to police.

Prosecution's arguments

The prosecution had opposed the bail application, fearing the accused would interfere with the investigations and intimidate witnesses.

"Additional evidence is still being collected by the investigators, including data communication, bank records and business engagements," Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) Noordin Haji said in his submissions.

The court also heard that interference by the accused persons would significantly harm the pursuit of justice in the matter.

The prosecution further submitted that the accused persons are likely to abscond court if granted bail.

"Having been charged with the offence of murder and knowing that if found guilty the punishment meted could be that of death penalty, they are more likely to abscond if released on bail or bond pending the determination," added the prosecution.

State witness

Mr Obure earlier sought to become a prosecution witness in the case since the result of the preliminary investigation indicated that it was his firearm that was used in the murder.

He sought to testify against his bodyguard but Justice Mumbi Ngugi rejected the application.

The judge told him that he cannot purport to instruct the DPP on whether to charge him with the criminal offence or have him appear as a witness.

"Indeed, it seems to me that it would be to stretch the boundaries of review of the DPP's discretion to a point where it would be against the public interest were applications such as this be entertained," said Justice Ngugi.

She also noted that in the application, Mr Obure asked the High Court to prohibit itself from proceeding with the prosecution of the accused on the basis that such a prosecution would violate his rights.

"The orders sought have no basis in law and appear to be brought in complete disregard or ignorance of the law relating to a judicial review. Were they to be granted, they would result in absurdity," she ruled.

The judge said the application was a "nonstarter and an abuse of the court process".

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