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DCI seeks to hold rangers linked to student’s d***h

Thursday, May 16th, 2024 05:30 | By
Some of the Kenya Forest Service officers appearing before the Eldama Ravine Law Court. They were in court over the murder of 19-year-old Stephen Mwangi in Maji Mazuri Forest. PHOTO/Raphael Munge
Some of the Kenya Forest Service officers appearing before the Eldama Ravine Law Court. They were in court over the murder of 19-year-old Stephen Mwangi in Maji Mazuri Forest. PHOTO/Raphael Munge

An Eldama Ravine Court will today rule on whether five Kenya Forest Service (KFS) rangers linked to the murder of a teenager in Baringo will remain in custody.

The Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) filed an application before Senior Principal Magistrate Richard Koech seeking to hold the suspects for two weeks.

The five suspects stationed at the Maji Mazuri Forest station in Eldama Ravine are accused of fatally assaulting 19-year-old Stephen Mwangi within Maji Mazuri Forest on May 13, 2024.

The Form three student succumbed to the injuries which prompted the arrest of forest rangers Zipporah Chepkurui, Charles Korir, Simon Njoroge, Stanley Njoroge and Francis Lemiso.

According to the teenager’s father John Ambuka, Mwangi was attacked as he tried to defend his mother who had been arrested by the officers in the forest on allegations of illegal logging.

In an application, the DCI sought to hold the five for 14 days citing that they are now prime murder suspects and all intended prosecution witnesses were yet to record statements.

The DCI stated that the five have police powers under the National Police Service Act and would interfere with investigations if held within Eldama Ravine Police Station which is located in an area where their work station is also situated.

Violent protests

The DCI noted that the suspects’ safety was paramount and under threat if they are released citing violent protests witnessed Tuesday during which their residences were burnt down by irate residents.

Through their lawyer, Ruth Kerubo, the suspects protested the custodial application by the DCI saying that the grounds given by the DCI were not enough for a custodial order.

Kerubo further stated that the five were members of a disciplined service who would not interfere with witnesses and would avail themselves in court once released on bail.

Accused persons

“The Kenya Forest Service is also ready to organise for their redeployment should their safety in the area be at risk. The deceased is also said to have been unwell and no post-mortem has been done yet to implicate the accused persons,” said Kerubo.

On her part, Bilha Omulama, advocate from the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) and representing the family opposed the defence application saying that the case was a weighty matter.

“The case raises critical human rights concerns. The suspects will also be released into an area where all witnesses are and are likely to be interfered with,” said Omulama.

The magistrate directed that the suspects be remanded at Mogotio Police Station in the neighbouring sub county.

“The defence is to be furnished with all the documents they have requested from the prosecution today. Meanwhile, the suspects will remain in police custody at Mogotio until tomorrow when I shall make a ruling on the DCI application for a custodial order,” said Koech.

Tension has been brewing in Maji Mazuri trading centre since the attack which saw Mwangi hospitalised under Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital (MTRH) in Eldoret.

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