Mungiki leader freed, re-arrested

Nairobi, Kenya - Mungiki sect leader Maina Njenga Tuesday enjoyed a few minutes of freedom, after a successful appeal,but was re-arrested.

Police officers in civilian clothing pounced on the sect leader and whisked him away a few minutes after the High Court had ordered his release.

The sect leader successfully appealed against a five-year jail term after he was charged and convicted on allegations of possessing an illegal firearm and trafficking in narcotic drugs.

His release was however short-lived after the police arrested him on suspicion that he “personally ordered the killing of 28 people” in Nyeri one week ago.

The officers could not wait for the sect leader to be taken to Industrial Area Prison where his lawyer Kibe Mungai anticipated his clearance following the acquittal by Mr Justice J.B. Ojwang.

Mr Mungai condemned the arrest terming it malicious.

A statement from the police headquarters said Mr Njenga was wanted for murder of 28 people at Chehe village in Nyeri West district. The killings occurred one week after a vigilante group killed 14 members of the sect in neighbouring Kirinyaga district.

The statement, signed by police spokesman Eric Kiraithe said that the police had credible evidence that Mr Njenga personally ordered the multiple murders that occurred on the night of April 20 and 21.

Mr Kiraithe also said the proscribed sect leader will be investigated in connection with “several other serious criminal offences committed by the outlawed criminal gang under his leadership”.

Earlier in court, Mr Justice Ojwang ruled that Mr Njenga was convicted on defective charges. The Judge said both charges- of illegal possession of a firearm and trafficking in drugs- were defective and incurable in law.

In faulting the trial magistrate for convicting the sect leader on defective charges, Mr Justice Ojwang said that although the pistol found in Njenga’s possession was not capable of firing, the charge did not fall under weapons defined in the Act he was convicted of.