BY SAM ALFAN. High court sitting in Mombasa has quashed life sentence against 25 navy officers who alleged to deserted duty. Justice Martin Muya allowed the appeal by their lawyers Henry Kurauka, Eric Mutua and Gikandi Ngibuini, saying the sentence was not merited. The judge said the sentence was too harsh and the court arrived at wrong decision by jailing the officers for life.
Justice Muya however found the 25 soldiers guilty of absconding duty and sentenced them to two years in prison.
The soldiers, who were accused of deserting their naval stations in 2007 and 2008 ‘during war time’ to work for US security firms in Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait were convicted and jailed by three Judge Advocates.
However, they appealed the verdict and conviction on the grounds that the Government charged them illegally in military courts, yet became civilians after resigning.
However, the Government maintained they are still serving soldiers because they, allegedly, did not resign, procedurally.
The soldiers accused the military tribunal of failing to admit their resignation documents as proof that they were lawfully allowed to leave the armed forces.
In their appeal, the soldiers claimed that the Kenyan military was not engaged in any war when they quit.
They further alleged that they had been charged and convicted under the Kenya Defence Forces Act of 2010, yet they left the force before it was enacted.
The former KDF soldiers accused the members of court martial of making a finding that they were in active service under the armed forces act, yet the charge had been preferred under Kenya Defence Forces Act under definition of active service which was radically different.