Detectives are investigating how a “false” probation report was used to secure the release of three murder suspects on bail — in the high profile murder case of a senior chief in Marsabit.
Senior chief Bida Godana was stoned to death on December 16 during the funeral of police reservist Dako Kiso who had been shot dead the previous day. Mr Bika was accused, during the funeral, of “betraying” the Borana to Gabras and was chased, killed, and his body set ablaze using petrol from his official motorbike.
Also being investigated is whether there was connivance between officials from the county government of Marsabit, a prosecution officer and a senior judge.
What started as a murder trial might snowball into a full case-study on how to handle crime cases and the intrigues involved.
The matter might also trigger a new row between the Judiciary and DCI over the handling of the case, which has created tension.
It was because of inter-ethnic tension in the region, that the case had been shifted from Marsabit to Meru, in order to protect the witnesses and help calm the situation.
An intelligence briefing seen by the Nation now claims that the judge relied on a “false” probation report which had been compiled by a Marsabit probation officer.
“The probation report is false and therefore the bond terms are based on falsehood and fraud,” says the report dated January 4.
A probation report is prepared by a probation officer once a court gives an order for the report to be done. The report is supposed to contain background of the accused person or offender, the circumstances of the offence, previous criminal history, an assessment of the attitude of the offender towards the offence, an assessment of the attitude of the offender’s family, the victim and/or the community towards the offender and the offence.
The three suspects; former councillor Doyo Galgalo, Galma Galgalo and Bokaya Dida Boru were released on a cash bail of Sh300,000 and a mention date set for January 17. The trio had been arrested following an order, by Inspector-General Joseph Boinett, against “known” individuals who instigated the murder.
Investigators now say that a series of events in the matter indicate serious tampering with the case by both county government officials and the prosecution.
Investigators had on December 18 presented two of the suspects before Meru law courts for custodial orders and were asked to remand them at the Meru Police Station for seven days until December 24, 2018. The third suspect was arrested on December 19.
Records show that the ODPP in Meru received the police file on December 24, 2018 but failed to register the charge information at the Meru High Court criminal registry. Instead, the matter was taken to a chief magistrate who dismissed the case citing lack of jurisdiction. And since the High Court was not sitting, the suspects were to be set free since the court order had lapsed and they had not been charged.
Sources say that although the investigators prepared an affidavit seeking custodial orders for the suspects and which was registered under Miscellaneous Criminal application No 91 of 2018, the magistrate refused to hear the case.
Records indicate that the investigators were forced to set the suspects free — and rearrested them later and booked them at Meru Police Station. Chief Magistrate Lucy Ambasi ordered the suspects to be remanded at the GK Prison in Meru and a mental assessment done pending production of the suspects in court on January 3, 2019. A pre-bail report was to be tabled in court on January 3, 2019.
But without the knowledge of the investigating officers, the case was taken over by a Marsabit judge who travelled to Meru on January 2 and set free the suspects on a cash bail. By then a probation officer in Marsabit had e-mailed his report to Meru and failed to copy the police and the investigating officer.
“It is suspicious to note that the pre-bail report and psychiatrist reports were ready for consideration bearing in mind that the previous day was a public holiday,” an intelligence briefing says.
By the time the judge was releasing the suspects, the investigating officers were in Marsabit 450km away, preparing an affidavit opposing the suspects to be released on bond. A prosecutor handling the case in Meru told the judge that he was ready to continue with the case without the input of the investigating officers.
“The accused relatives were all in court while the victims’ relatives were absent. [This is] clear indication of collusion between the judiciary and the accused person,” the intelligence brief says.