By: MARTIN MWAURA
TWENTY-seven former Kenya Navy servicemen have revealed the intrigues that led to their prosecution and life sentences by court martial on allegations of desertion.
Jailed for life by KDF, they were acquitted on Friday by the High Court in Mombasa, which ruled that the military prosecutors and the Directorate of Public Prosecutions did not provide enough evidence.
The men said the danger of being labelled rogue officers, the then prevailing terror threats at the Coast and suspicions by the security agencies made them troop back to the Mtongwe Navy Base for clearance.
They accused the KDF of coaching witnesses and flouting the law to unlawfully jail them for life.
They blamed the KDF for subjecting them to mental and physical torture, while referring to them as highly trained terrorists during their court martial at the Mtongwe base, where they were charged.
The former soldiers were arrested on February 20 last year, after they were tricked into going back to the Mtongwe Naval Base for “clearance”.
On May 13 last year, the KDF revealed it had lost about 800 servicemen since 2011 during a Court of Appeal hearing in Malindi when they opposed the release on bond of the detained soldiers.
State lawyer Alex Muteti said the suspects’ release would be a blow to morale at the military camp.
The ex-servicemen reported to the Mtongwe base on February 5, 17, 18 and 19 before they were arrested on February 20 by Military Police officers on the orders of Lieutenant Colonel Evans Oguga.
Oguga later, as part of the court martial, swore an affidavit that the men had left the country without the permission of the then Defence Cabinet Secretary.
The men have argued that in February 2007, the then Deputy Navy Commander, Brigadier Ngewa Mukala, at the Navy’s Manda Base in Lamu, asked soldiers who wanted to resign to write to him and they would be officially discharged.
“In the group that was cleared, we have people who tendered resignation letters and were cleared in a flash,” said one of the soldiers.
“There is more to this than meets the eye. The public is being told lies to cover up for the intrigues that are military politics,” said a former military man who requested anonymity.