Drama unfolded at Kitui Law Courts when a man accused of committing 12 murders in Mwingi Central refused to alight from a prison van when he was brought for mention, threatening to disrupt court proceedings if journalists were allowed to cover his case.
Mr John Kilonzo Musyoka alias Karunyu, just like the previous time when he was arraigned in court, reiterated his objection to being photographed by reporters accusing them of infringing on his rights.
“Sitaki kupigwa picha. Sijawahi kuona korti ambayo watu wanapigwa picha." (I refuse to be photographed. I have never seen a court where reporters take pictures of the accused persons),” he kept saying.
Efforts by prison officers, who were accompanying the suspect, to force him out of the van were futile as he fought to remain concealed inside the van for fear that journalists would photograph him as soon as he stepped out of the vehicle.
During the last mention on February 10, 2016, Karunyu disrupted court business for half an hour when he engaged court orderlies in a heated tussle as he protested against media coverage.
He kicked and struggled fiercely with the court orderlies prompting the magistrate and the public to leave the courtroom for safety.
It took the combined efforts of a couple of police officers manning the court to subdue the capital crime suspect and handcuff him before Kitui Central OCPD Kennedy Osando arrived to restore order in the tense court.
In a bid to prevent a repeat of the scuffle, the court on Tuesday assured Mr Musyoka that journalists would be barred from covering his case.
Apparently convinced but still doubtful, the man finally cooperated and agreed to get out of the vehicle and into the court cells amid tight security.
The court, however, ordered the accused to respect freedom of the press as well as refrain from giving the court a hard time in future.
Deputy Registrar Rose Ombata, before whom the suspect appeared, pointed out that journalists had a fundamental right and freedom to cover court proceedings provided they in turn report in a factual and fair manner.
She, however, warned reporters to conduct themselves with decorum while in court so as not to alarm case parties or make them feel intimidated thereby prompting them to object to media coverage.
Many residents of Kitui thronged the courtroom while others stood outside as they tried to get a glimpse of the man dreaded for allegedly leading a six-man gang that hacked to death twelve people from Nyanyaa, Ndithi and Syonzale villages in Mwingi Central, Kitui County, on the night of July 3, 2013.
Ms Ombata also noted that the court had received a short report from a psychiatrist who was examining the murder suspect at Machakos County Referral Hospital to the effect that more time was required to complete the mental examination ordered by the court.
“The psychiatrist has informed this court that the medical report is incomplete and thus requests for two more weeks to conclude the examination in order to file a comprehensive report on the findings,” said Ms Ombata.
She ordered that the accused be escorted back to the Machakos GK Prison and consequently to the hospital for conclusion of the psychiatric examination to establish his mental status before he can be charged with murder.
The case will be mentioned on April 4, 2016 when the court will give further orders.