Man Denies Practising Witchcraft

A Mombasa man who caused a stir by claiming he could exorcise spirits yesterday denied practising witchcraft.

Mr Akiba Bakari first appeared in court early this month, but was too ill to plead to the charges.

Yesterday, he was composed as he stood in the dock and answered, "Si kweli" (its not true), to three charges read to him.

He is charged with practising witchcraft on Mr Ngeti Ndovu, Mr Mbeyu Chiroph and Mr Juma Salim last December 20 at Miritini, Mombasa.

During his hunt for witches in the area, Mr Baraka ate live chicken and performed other unusual acts.

Mr Bakari was arrested early this month, months after Coast Provincial Commissioner Cyrus Maina ordered his arrest, amid protests by those who did not agree with his methods.

Soon after his arrest, the suspect collapsed and started foaming at the mouth. He was admitted at the Coast General Hospital.

When the case first came up, Mr Bakari was said to be in coma.

Defence lawyer Fredrick Okanga applied for his client to be freed on bond to allow him seek treatment.

"My client was discharged from Coast General Hospital where he was being treated conventionally, but the doctors could not diagnose his ailment," the lawyer told the court.

Mr Okanga said his client was possessed with spirits that could only be removed through unconventional treatment.

The magistrate freed the suspect on a Sh20,000 bond and deferred taking of the plea to yesterday.

She noted that the accused had been at the hospital for nearly two weeks, but his condition had not been diagnosed.

It was only fair, therefore, that he be granted bail to be treated before he could take his plea, the magistrate ruled.

The case will now be heard on July 27.