A 28-year-old man who was maliciously arrested and kept waiting for 23 months before his case was terminated for lack of witnesses has been awarded Sh5 million by the High Court.
Mr Anthony Murimi Waigwe, a father of one, had been accused of robbery with violence but after his case was adjourned on several occasions for almost two years, the presiding magistrate rejected a further adjournment and freed him on June 27, 2017 under Section 87A of the Criminal Procedure Code.
The victim sued the Inspector-General of Police, Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and Corporal J. Ochieng, the investigating officer in his case.
Justice James Makau agreed with him that the arrest and his prosecution were without basis and directed the government to pay him Sh4.5 million for general damages and a further Sh500,000 for punitive damages.
The judge castigated the police, saying no one should be charged without conducting proper investigations and prosecutors should never be used “to stage-manage cases”.
“Police must act impartially and independently on receipt of a complaint and carry out thorough investigations, which should ordinarily involve taking into account versions presented by both the complainant and the suspect,” the judge said.
Evidence presented to a Makadara court showed that Mr Murimi was arrested on his way to work on July 22, 2015 by officers from the Kayole Police Station.
But the judge said there was no indication that there was a complaint against him or that the police were looking for him. They, however, pressed charges against him.
When he was arrested, the police never bothered to inform him the reasons for his arrest, but he overheard them saying he would be handed over to the Criminal Investigations Department the following day.
He was kept in police custody for eight days and later presented to a parade, but no one identified him over the alleged offence.
While the trial was pending, he wrote to the police as well as the Independent Policing Oversight Authority, but they failed to investigate his complaints.
The court said it was clear that the charge against him was orchestrated by malice.
“I find that it is not properly right in a civilised society like ours to close our eyes, ears and mouths when a police officer arrests and charges an innocent Kenyan youth and takes him through an unnecessary criminal trial,” the judge said.
The man said he lost his job where he used to earn Sh35,000 per month and was stigmatised for being labelled a robber.
The judge said it is the duty of the State in the criminal justice system to expedite trials so that an accused person knows his fate within the shortest time possible.