Court bars MP Moses Kuria from making comments over Mandera terror attack

Wednesday November 26 2014

Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By VINCENT AGOYA
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Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria has been restrained from making comments on social media about the Mandera attack.

The order was sought by the prosecution when Mr Kuria appeared for the mention of a hate speech case against him, arising from comments he allegedly made on social media about the Gikomba terrorist attack in Nairobi that killed 10 people in May.

A new hashtag on Twitter, #killyourown, which the prosecution had linked to the MP, was presented in court as new evidence in a similar hate speech case that the prosecution said was under investigation.

WARNED AGAINST FURTHER COMMENTS

According to the prosecution, the hashtag borders on incitement to violence and criminality and its originator and commentators, among them the MP, have now been warned against making further comments on it.

However the MP’s lawyer, Mr John Mburu, defended him, saying he was not the originator of the controversial hashtag and that he was exercising his rights by contributing to a matter of public interest.

The case against the MP over the Gikomba remarks may be withdrawn once he reaches an amicable out-of-court settlement with his accusers, National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC).

The court was told that the MP was about to reach a settlement with NCIC and the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) once he complies with three condition set for the agreement.

The conditions that Mr Kuria must meet includes going public with an apology over the remarks he is accused of making.

He is also required to convene a “stakeholders” meeting to bring together members of the NCIC, the Law Society of Kenya, and representatives from the DPP’s office where he will be expected to answer some questions.

He is expected to then recant the statements he is accused of making.

The MP has also been told “to bear the cost of the apology” by footing the bills at the proposed conciliatory meeting.

“We received a letter from the DPP, which has the conditions and which my client is ready to abide by with a view of having the case withdrawn,” lawyer Mburu told the trial magistrate, Mr Enock Cherono.

WENT AGAINST BAIL TERMS

However, a prosecutor said the MP had indulged in similar hate speech by recently posting his opinions under the hashtag #killyourown “which amounts to contempt of court since a restraint order had been issued against him as a condition for his bail terms.”

“It also amounts to subversion of justice...and we seek a fresh order against him to stop making similar comments,” prosecutor Nicodemus Maingi said.

The court ruled that the sentiments of #killyourown were provocative and warned the MP to desist from associating himself with the hashtag.

“You are a honourable Member of Parliament, which gives you the right forum to express your views. We do not expect you to associate with the social media comments unless you want to become the subject of a fresh charge...”the magistrate said. 

The hate speech case against the MP will be mentioned on January 15.