A 25-year-old Moi University student Alan Wadi Okengo alias Lieutenant Wadi in a Nairobi court on January 2, 2015 where he was charged with hate speech and defaming President Kenyatta. He pleaded guilty.
BY SAM ALFAN.
A 25-year-old Moi University student who was jailed for up to two years in January after admitting to insulting President Uhuru Kenyatta on Facebook has been released on appeal.
Allan Wadi Okengo was convicted on a plea of own guilty in January this year after he was charged with the offense of hate speech contrary to the law.
His Lawyer Edward Oonge appealed the case stating that the trial Magistrate had not taken into account the fact that Wadi during his mitigation had stated that he was not mentally fit.
He said the Magistrate did not investigate the claim made by Wadi that he had a mental disorder before convicting him.
“I Urge the court to consider the fact that when the appellant said it was the devil who had a hand in his mind ,the trial court should have investigated whether the appellant had the requisite mental status to plead to the charges,” Oonge had told Court of appeal.
In his Judgment, Justice Luka Kimaru stated that it was clear Wadi had mental issues which the Magistrate court ought to have investigated to establish if indeed Wadi had the requisite mental capacity to plead guilty to the charges that were brought against him.
“The trial court was required in the circumstances to refer the appellant for medical assessment to determine his mental status. It did not matter that this issue was brought to the attention of the court after he had been convicted on his own plea of guilty,” he said.
Justice Kimaru said the trial court erred when it failed to make the necessary inquiry and thus the error renders the plea of guilty that was recorded at the trial court equivocal thereby vitiating the conviction of Wadi.
“The appeal shall be allowed as a result of which the conviction of the appellant on the plea of guilty is quashed and the sentences imposed set aside,” he said.
Kimaru said it would be prejudicial to have a retrial of the case since Wadi has served half of the custodial sentence of one year imprisonment that he was ordered to serve. He said it will not serve the ends of Justice if Wadi was retried stating that in the period he has been in prison, he has learnt his lesson.
Justice Kimaru added that the court had also taken into consideration that Wadi at the time of arrest was a fourth year student in a public University and that he should be given an opportunity to complete his university education.
“The Justice of this case demands that the appellant be forthwith discharged. In the premises therefore, the appellant is ordered set at liberty forthwith and released from prison unless lawfully held,” he said.