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Kisumu rapist handed 130-year jail term for infecting victim with HIV

A Kisumu court has sentenced a man to 130 years in jail for raping and infecting a girl with HIV in a judgement that has been criticised as unlawful by lawyers.

Resident Magistrate Samwel Aswani Opande sentenced the 25-year-old man to 100 years in jail for defiling a nine-year- old girl and 30 years for infecting her with the virus.

John Okewo alias Tony was found guilty of committing the crime in March. He waylaid the girl as she went to a shop to buy omena, the court was told.

But lawyers have roundly dismissed the judgement as illegal.

The offence only attracts life imprisonment, Law Society of Kenya western Kenya chairman Richard Onsongo and his Kisumu counterpart Frank Olel argued.

THE SAME THING

“Although it amounts to almost the same thing, the sentence is illegal and unlawful,” Mr Onsongo said.

“It is not the sentence set out in the law,” Mr Onsongo said.

According to the Sexual Offences Act, a person found guilty of defiling a minor under 11 should be sentenced to life in jail.

Mr Olel wondered how the magistrate arrived at the sentence.

“It is wrong for the magistrate to say so because the Act has set out the punishment for such a crime. Giving him 100 years sets out a ground for appeal, but the law will still have it that he be sentenced for life,” he said.

On Saturday, LSK chairman Eric Mutua supported this argument.

ERRED

“By giving an implied life sentence of 100-plus years, the magistrate erred,” said Mr Mutua in an interview with NTV.

So is sentencing one to 100 years in jail — which in essence means more than a lifetime, based on the 60-year-life expectancy in Kenya — same as a life sentence?

“Although it might sound like a life sentence, it is not. And it is illegal,” said Mr Onsongo.

Mr Opande, in his judgment, said he was convinced that Okewo committed the crime and should be punished for it.

“I sentence him to a sentence of 100 years in prison for the first count and 30 for the second,” the magistrate said, adding that the sentence would run concurrently. He allowed the convict to appeal within 14 days.

The girl’s 22-year-old mother yesterday said she was happy with the verdict.

“The man destroyed the life of my young daughter. He took away her innocence and I am happy that the court has made him pay. Let him serve his sentence,” the woman said at her home in Kanyango, Muhoroni.

VIOLATION

She said she had just moved from Ahero to Muhoroni to work in a hotel a month before her daughter suffered the worst violation.

“All I wanted was to give her a good life, then this man destroyed her,” she said. “Though this judgment does not return my girl’s innocence, at least it serves to deter others from doing it.”