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Last Updated: Thursday, 2 October, 2003, 11:58 GMT 12:58 UK
Three charged over Kenyan murder
The East African Standard
The newspaper editor was charged with stealing a tape containing confessions
Three people have been charged with the controversial murder of a senior official of the Kenya constitution review commission.

The suspects - two minibus touts and a houseboy - were charged after a newspaper editor were taken to court in connection with the alleged theft of a videotaped statement to the police investigating the high-profile murder of Crispin Mbai.

The killing has generated heated debate, with politicians from both the ruling National Rainbow Coalition (Narc) and the opposition alleging that it was a political assassination meant to derail the constitution review process.

The two-day detention of the editor of the Sunday Standard, David Makali, following his publication of an alleged confession from one of the suspects, provoked strong domestic and international criticism.

Leak

Collins Ketore Kilel, Ramadhan Karume Otieno and Moses Gitogo Mbuthi were charged with the murder of Mr Mbai, who headed a committee on the devolution of powers in the commission.

The three were not allowed to plead and were remanded in custody for two weeks because they did not have legal representation.

Freedom of the press has limits... the work of the police has been compromised by the leakage
Chris Murangaru
National Security Minister
Under Kenyan law persons facing capital offences whose penalty on conviction is a mandatory death sentence must be represented by counsel of their choice.

Mr Makali and police detective John Kiptorus Chemweno were charged over the leaking of the alleged confession of a suspect in the murder.

They were released on bail after a hearing in a packed magistrate's court on Tuesday.

A group of 58 MPs agreed with media campaigners that the Mr Makali's arrest was an attack on press freedom.

"The arrests are an attempt by the government to intimidate and blackmail the press against their constitutional right of free access to information," the MPs said.

Freedom limits

But National Security Minister Chris Murangaru insists that the report had hindered police investigations into the killing.

"Freedom of the press has limits... the work of the police has been compromised by the leakage," he said.

Mr Makali, his deputy Kwamchetsi Makokha and the managing director of the East African Standard Tom Mshindi were arrested on Monday by officers from the Criminal Investigations Department (CID).

But Mr Mshindi and Mr Makokha were released on Tuesday.


SEE ALSO:
Kenyan editor charged with theft
01 Oct 03  |  Africa
Kenya editor arrests condemned
30 Sep 03  |  Africa
Kenya media face new curbs
10 May 02  |  Africa
Country profile: Kenya
17 Jun 03  |  Country profiles
Timeline: Kenya
07 May 03  |  Country profiles


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