State appeals acquittal of 25 soldiers accused of desertion
It is alleged more than 800 soldiers have deserted since the ruling in August last year, when 25 ex-soldiers were freed. They had been found guilty of desertion
The state has appealed against a ruling that handed lesser punishment to soldiers accused of desertion of duty.
In papers filed in court, the state says the decision has encouraged more soldiers to desert the service.
“The decision by Justice [Martin] Muya has created grave consequences, especially during this time that our soldiers are in Somalia fighting. A big number has deserted duties, as they don’t have the fear of being charged with desertion,” the application reads. It is alleged more than 800 soldiers have deserted duties since Muya made the ruling in August last year.
He freed 25 ex-soldiers, who had been found guilty of desertion and sentenced to life imprisonment by a court martial.
The judge also acquitted the ex-soldiers and said the Kenya Defence Forces and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions had not proved that they abandoned duty.
The state says there are another 12 soldiers facing charges of desertion. The cases cannot proceed because of the ruling.
In his judgment, Muya said the ex-soldiers had gone to work for private American security firms in the Middle East in 2007-08 and had written letters of resignation.
“The charge of desertion has not been proved and the court has made a finding that they were only absent without leave,” Muya ruled.
“The ex-soldiers are hereby set free.”
Judge Muya rejected the request by assistant DPP Alexander Muteti to stay his judgment while the state appealed. He emphasised that the acquittal was based on the time they had been in custody since they were sentenced in February 2014.
Muya said the time the ex-soldiers had spent in custody was sufficient punishment for being absent without leave.
Families of the 25 ex-soldiers celebrate in court after the judge acquitted their members on August 21 last year. The High Court in Mombasa discharged the 25 who were sentenced to life for desertion of duty. The court argued that the prosecution had not proved that they had deserted