Kenya: Child Trafficking Probe - Mama Lucy Hospital CEO, Administrator Cleared

23 November 2020

A court on Monday cleared Mama Lucy Kibaki Hospital chief executive Dr Emma Mutio and administrator Dr Regina Musembi of criminal liability in the child trafficking scandal that has rocked the facility.

The ruling by Milimani Senior Principal Magistrate Bernard Ochoi came after Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) Noordin Haji said the investigation had not linked them to the serious crime punishable by a jail term of 30 years.

The two were cleared alongside clinicians Juliana Mbete Kimwele and Beatrice Njambi Njoroge.

“There is no evidence linking Dr Mutio, Dr Musembi, Ms Kimwele and Ms Njoroge to the child trafficking scandal, therefore they will not be charged with any offence,” State Prosecutor Caroline Kirimi told Mr Ochoi.

The DPP said, however, that he would charge NMS Deputy Director of Medical Services Musa Mohammed Ramadhan and two others as the probe supported a case against them.

The two are Clinical Officer Makallah Leparan and Selina Awour (in charge of social services), who were arrested alongside the top officials. They serve in the hospital's Social League department.

Reactions

Welcoming the court’s ruling, lawyer Danstan Omari, for Dr Mutio and Dr Musembi, said his clients were “as clean as cotton and as white as snow” and that they had been saved from the stigma they would have suffered.

“Their reputations had been smeared by the ugly scam,” he noted, adding "these two doctors are war veterans in the Covid-19 pandemic, having been in the frontlines in saving lives at Mbagathi Hospital”.

Emotions ran high, with the cleared medics and their relatives crying tears of joy and hugging following the ruling.

Ms Josephine Mutiso, mother of Dr Mutio, told the Nation at the courts, “I am happy that my daughter, who has served the health sector since 2017, has been cleared.”

Mr Omari said Dr Musembi had worked in the health sector for over 30 years.

He said he would seek instructions for filing a special damages suit for the two doctors, who were transferred to Mama Lucy about 10 days ago, “only to walk into a police dragnet when they had nothing to do with the illicit trade that has engulfed the city hospital”.

Others charged

Dr Ramadhan and the other two faced charges later on Monday before Chief Magistrate Martha Mutuku.

The NMS official fell ill and was admitted to Kenyatta National Hospital so only his co-accused appeared in court. They all denied four counts of offences related to child trafficking.

Mr Leparan was separately charged with trafficking five children aged two months, receiving them at the hospital between April 30 and May 13.

All the three were charged with conspiring to traffic children between March 1 and November 16.

Ms Awuor and Dr Ramadhan are accused of neglecting their duties by failing to prevent Mr Leparan from committing the crime.

The prosecutor urged the magistrate to deny them bond, saying they would interfere with records at the hospital.

“Children have been stolen from the hospital and disappeared without a trace,” the prosecutor said, citing the BBC expose on the matter.

She noted that at least 77 children have been stolen from Mama Lucy.

Defence lawyer Francis Mwaura, for Mr Leparan, opposed the State’s plea against the accused's release, saying, “Article 49 overrides all contentions as it mandates all courts to free suspects on bond regardless of the offence.”

Mr Mwaura said the accused were posted to the hospital after the offences were committed.

Ms Mutuku will rule on the bail application on Wednesday.

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