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June 19 2010 | KENYA


Ten young students escape the death penalty

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How students escaped the death penalty

June 19,  2010

For 10 young men who were waiting to be executed for their crimes, June 11 will be a day to remember.

This was the day their death sentences were set aside and a High Court judge declared they were free to go home. Among the 10 were four university students sentenced to death for robbery with violence and possession of firearms.

Mr Gordon Onyango, Mr David Mwangi, Mr Victor Mulinge and Mr George Mungai were handed the death penalty by a Kibera magistrate in 2005 after they were found guilty on nine counts of robbery with violence.

They filed an appeal at the High Court challenging the sentences and asking the court to quash them.

Lady Justices Jessie Lessit and Joyce Khaminwa ruled in their favour, saying Mr Mungai and Mr Mulinge had not been mentioned or identified by any of the witnesses. They ruled that their death sentences should be revoked.

Hangman’s noose

Also saved from the hangman’s noose were Mr Onyango and Mr Mwangi who, in their appeal said the judge had erred in sentencing them to death.

This is just one of the cases in which the four were jointly charged. They were all arrested in relation to a number of robberies. Of the 16 cases, the group has successfully appealed 13, leaving only three.

In another case involving the same suspects, a student in whose room a cache of firearms was found was jailed for five years. Bernard Ouma escaped the hangman’s noose but the court sentenced his three co-accused to death.

They had been charged with violently robbing and killing Kenya Army Major Hudson Wafula on May 13, 2003 in Nairobi. A prison officer said the students will stay in custody because of pending cases.

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