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Sharon murder: Obado to spend 10 more days in prison

Friday September 28 2018

Okoth Obado

Migori Governor Okoth Obado in the dock at a Mililani Law Court on September 27, 2018 over the murder of Sharon Otieno. PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

SAM KIPLAGAT
By SAM KIPLAGAT
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MAUREEN KAKAH
By MAUREEN KAKAH
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Migori Governor Zacharia Okoth Obado smiled wryly after a judge on Thursday rejected his application to be released on bond.

Initially, Mr Obado had sat pensively in court following the proceedings as he, together with his lawyers, hoped that his application will sail through.

However, the governor who was arrested a week ago over the murder of his girlfriend, 26-year-old Sharon Otieno, will have to spend 10 more days at Industrial Area Remand Prison as he waits to make a fresh application for his release.

Justice Jessie Lessit rejected the application, saying the court was yet to see the witness statements and documentary evidence to be used in the case to make a determination as to whether it was okay to free him on bond.

SAFETY

The judge said that it was early for the court to make a conclusive finding on issues raised by the prosecution, among them the security and the volatile situation in Migori County.

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She added that the fact that the prosecution said that investigations were still ongoing “cannot be wished away”.

Justice Lessit, however, agreed that security of the suspects was a major issue and that was the reason why Mr Obado and his co-accused were arraigned in Nairobi and not Migori.

“The application cannot be determined before the witness statements and other documentary evidence are availed, because that is the only way the court can fully exercise its discretion and apply factors for consideration and determine whether or not there exists compelling reasons to deny bail,” the judge said.

She added the failure by the prosecution to provide the statements cannot be interpreted to mean that they do not have a case, unless there are good grounds, which can lead to such a conclusion.

On the alleged confession made by one of the suspects in court, the judge said it is a matter to be canvassed during the trial.

WITNESSES

The alleged confession was made by Mr Jackson Gombe, a suspect.

And on interference with witnesses, the judge said the court can impose strict terms, which will ensure that it does not happen.

Mr Obado through lawyers Cliff Ombeta and Nicholas Ombija had argued that the offence of murder is bailable under Article 49(1)(h) of the Constitution.

Mr Ombeta had submitted that the governor has a qualified constitutional right to be released on bond on reasonable conditions and that he has a right to be presumed innocent until the contrary is proven.

He said Mr Obado would present himself whenever required and was ready to abide by any conditions that shall be set by the court. The governor, he further said, had co-operated with the investigators.

But Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions Jacob Ondari opposed his release, saying Mr Obado is an influential person and most of the witnesses are from Migori.

Some of the witnesses, he said, were county employees and investigators are yet to record statements from them.

MURDER

The prosecution also said it was apprehensive that Mr Obado might interfere with witnesses or suppress investigations.

The court noted that the case has been changing and more suspects are being charged with the murder of Ms Otieno.

Mr Obado was charged on Monday with the murder of Ms Otieno, an offence he allegedly committed between September 3 and 4 at Owade in Rachuonyo, Homa Bay County.

The charge stated that he committed the offence with others not before the court.

Yesterday, a third suspect in the murder of the Rongo University student denied the charge before Justice Lessit.

Mr Caspal Obiero, a clerk in Migori County, denied killing Sharon.

Justice Lessit directed that Mr Obiero be remanded at Industrial Area until October 8 when he will argue the bail application.

Other than Mr Obado, his personal assistant Michael Oyamo has also denied the killing.