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Bail ruling in Rashid Echesa’s Matungu assault case set for Tuesday

Former Sports Cabinet Secretary Rashid Echesa, who is accused of assaulting an electoral commission official, will remain in police custody until Tuesday, when a ruling on his application for release will be made.

Mr Echesa has been in police custody since last week, when he was arrested on the accusation of assaulting an official of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).

The offence allegedly took place at the Bulonga Primary School polling station during the by-election in Matungu Constituency, Kakamega County, on March 4, a day marred by chaos and violence.

The IEBC official was identified as Presiding Officer Peter Juma Okula Khatetethe

The politician was arrested the following day and presented in court for the first time on Monday.

Kiambu Chief Magistrate Patricia Gichohi said Mr Echesa, who was caught on camera committing the offence, will be held at the Gigiri Police station.

“Habitual offender”

The prosecution had filed a miscellaneous application for the politician’s detention for seven days, for it to conclude its investigations into the matter.

Investigating officer Misheck Kagera, of the Serious Crimes Unit of the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI), swore an affidavit saying Mr Echesa is a habitual offender who is likely to intimidate witnesses if released.

Mr Kagera said, “The respondent is a habitual offender vide CR.121/54/2020, CF 271/2020 and many other cases that are under investigation.”

He added that Mr Echesa “is likely to cause fear and intimidation, thus interfering with witnesses who are [due for interviewing and statement recording”.

Lawyer Cliff Ombeta, for Mr Echesa, said the allegations against him were trumped up and aimed at discrediting him.

Mr Ombeta further noted that his client was not arrested as reported, as he presented himself to police.

He added that the prosecution has not produced any material evidence to support its case.

“The respondent has not been brought to court with good intentions. The prosecution has not attempted to show how the accused has directly or indirectly tried to intimidate the witnesses,” he said.

Mr Ombeta further questioned why the matter was being handled by a Kiambu court as the offence took place in Kakamega.

Supporters

The prosecution explained that Mr Echesa was moved to Nairobi and then to the Kiambu Law Courts because police had intelligence that showed his supporters were planning to cause chaos and storm a police where he was held briefly.

Mr Ombeta denied this, saying the prosecution was bent on having his client detained for longer.

“Let us protect his dignity. He is a respectable person who is a former Cabinet secretary,” the lawyer said.

Wearing a khaki trouser, white shirt and a black coat, Mr Echesa, who is a close ally of Deputy President William Ruto, sat pensively in court.

He is known to attract huge crowds in public rallies but at the Kiambu court, only former Mombasa Senator Hassan Omar was present.