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Court throws out KPL contempt of charges

Kenyan Premier League officials have survived a contempt of court application that would have seen them jailed for up to six months or directed to pay a fine.

Meanwhile, a ruling in an application filed by KPL seeking to set aside the orders issued on February 20, by Justice Mbogholi Msagha stopping the league matches, will be delivered on Monday.

Lady Justice Roselyn Aburili on Friday ruled that Football Kenya Federation (FKF), which had obtained the orders to stop KPL from organising the matches, had failed to prove that they had served the orders that were then allegedly violated.

It was also not clear whether the person sent to serve the order ever went to the KPL offices or even met the officials alleged to have been served with the orders.

The law prohibits service of court orders past 5pm but evidence adduced in court by FKF indicated that they had served the orders past 5.30pm.

IMPROPER MOTIVE

“I find there was no credible evidence that the orders had been served,” said Justice Aburili.

She added that FKF had the option to serve the orders in the morning of February 21, at the venue where the matches were being held, but they failed to utilise the opportunity.

The court also found that there was an improper motive on the part of FKF when they chose to single out KPL officials to face the wrath of the court when the orders were also directed to Kenya Football Referees Association (KFRA) and Sports Kenya, who were the defendants in the case.

She said FKF’s act of choosing to have KPL’s officials cited for contempt and not officials of KFRA and Sports Kenya, amounts to selective justice which cannot be allowed by the court.

“There is no football match which takes place without the referees and organisers and FKF has failed to tell the court why the two were not brought to face the wrath as well. The application of selective justice cannot be accepted by the court,” said Judge Aburili.

The judge appreciated the need to protect the dignity of the court by having its orders complied with but added that the orders should not be used by a party, to intimidate another.

VALID ORDERS

The judge however dismissed claims by KPL that the orders were vague. She held that the orders were valid and clear.

The contested orders had been issued in an application filed by FKF who alleged that KPL, KFRA and Sports Kenya, had approved a parallel premier league.

FKF claimed that the country risked being banned from participating in regional, continental and international football by the world governing body Fifa, due to such violations.

The two football parties have be engaged in long drawn tussle over the running of Kenya’s top tier league since late last year.

FKF want an 18-team league while KPL have stuck to having a 16-club affair. Two parallel leagues did in fact exist after the FKF Premier League kicked off on September 14 and the KPL started a week later.

FKF however obtained court orders stopping KPL from running their league pending a ruling that will now be delivered on Monday.