By Manase Otsialo
Five stone miners in Mandera have been handed a 10-year jail term for travelling to Somalia with an intention of joining Al-Shabaab.
The quarry miners are David Mburu, John Odhiambo, Pius Wambua, Nicholus Mukhoma and Peter Wainaina.
Mandera Senior Resident Magistrate Peter Areri on Wednesday found the miners guilty of having travelled to the neighbouring country on November 11 last year without passing through a designated immigration point.
“I have found each of the accused persons guilty as charged and I proceed to convict them under section 215 of Criminal Procedure Court (CPC),” said Mr Areri.
A warrant of arrest issued against the sixth suspect Mr Leosina Wanyonyi was extended to allow the police arrest him.
Mr Wanyonyi fled after the court on January 18 released them on a personal bond of S00, 000 each.
The six could not raise the initial S million bond with two sureties of similar amount for each issued by the same court. Mr Wanyonyi is accused by the prosecution of leading the five into Somalia to join the Al-Shabaab.
Mr Areri said all the accused pleaded guilty to the charges after facts were read to them by prosecution led by State counsel Kennedy Amwayi on November 19,, 2015.
“On mitigation, each made statements which led the court to conclude that the plea was not unequivocal and I proceeded to enter a plea of not guilty and fixed the case for trial,” said Mr Areri.
Their plea of guilty was changed on November 19 by Mr Areri to not guilty after the accused admitted they were arrested in Somalia after losing their way to their work station.
They were arrested on November 11 in Bulahawa town of Somalia and handed over to Kenyan authorities after their employer intervened.
Mr Jama Hussein Maalim, the owner of Fiqo quarry where the accused persons worked was also arrested and charged with facilitating their mission to join Al-Shabaab in Somalia but the prosecution dropped the case making him a witness.
“I have considered the evidence of the prosecution which is not challenged, denied or contravened by the accused persons and the unsworn statement of the 2nd accused,” said Mr Areri.
When put on defense, Mr John Odhiambo gave unsworn statement as the rest chose to remain silent and await the court’s decision.
The accused pleaded for forgiveness arguing they were new in Mandera and that they lost their way after moving to a new house near the Kenya Somalia border.
Their personal bond was cancelled on February 9 after the prosecution expressed fears that the suspects could escape like Wanyonyi.
The accused have 14 days to appeal.
Source: All Africa