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Court acquits Mandera quarry workers

Twenty quarry workers who were sentenced to five months in jail by a Mandera Court for disobeying a police order have been freed by the Garissa High Court.

This is after the Director of Public Prosecutions through the Mandera state counsel Allen Mulama appealed against the decision.

The DPP had argued that the magistrate’s court sentence of five month jail term or a Sh60,000 fine each for the 20 quarry workers was excessive and unwarranted in the circumstances considering that the accused persons were only trying to eke a living out of the quarry fields.

The workers had pleaded guilty before a Mandera court to disobeying a lawful order issued by the Mandera East OCPD Ekai Maruk requiring them to vacate the quarries for security reasons.

While sentencing the 20 quarry miners, Mandera Resident Magistrate Duncan Mtai said the court had considered the accused persons’ mitigation.

THREAT TO SECURITY

He said though the offense the workers were charged with “is a misdemeanor, their conduct was an outright threat not only to security in Mandera but also to their own lives”.

In early December last year, 36 miners were massacred at a quarry in Korome, 15 km from Mandera, by suspected Al Shabaab militia in an incident that raised security fears for non-locals working in the area.
But in his ruling, Mr Justice George Dulu said he found that the convictions against all the convicts were not proper and that the charge is incurably defective.
“I thus find justification in exercising this court’s power of review under section 365 of the Criminal Procedure Code (cap75). I quash the convictions of all the 20 convicts and set aside the sentences imposed on them. I order that all of them be set at liberty forthwith unless otherwise lawfully held. If any of the accused has paid the fine same should be refunded in full. I also quash the defective charge against the 14th accused,” Justice Dulu ruled.