Blogger Dikembe Disembe hate speech case will be heard in July.
The case has been dragging in courts as a key prosecution witness declines to turn up. Dikembe Disembe was reported to the National Cohesion and Integration Commission of having posted hate comment on social media forum Facebook regarding Mpeketoni, a charge which he rejected.
The blogger is accused of Â ethnic contempt having referred to an ethnic community in Kenya as ‘African colonialists’ when commenting on the sensitive land issues which is said to have triggered the violence in Mpeketoni.
However, Somali terror group Al shabaab disputed the government account which also included ‘local political networks’, and has since released a gruesome video of the attack.
Initially, the government arrested Lamu Governor Issa Tamimy who was then charged with several offences including terrorism in relation to the attacks but which the government dropped in unexplained circumstances.
Dikembe’s lawyer, Hon. James Orengo, urged the court to take judicial notice of the fact that the prosecution has so far summoned this particular witness twice but in both occasions he has failed to turn. Orengo told Chief Magistrate Lucy Ndung’u that he is also yet to find all witness statements and documents the prosecution intends to use on his client.
The witness, Mugo Wa Wairimu, a well known blogger close to state house, had initially claimed he personally pushed for the prosecution of the Dikembe. Mugo had indicated in his first statement how he wrote to the IG, DPP and CID over the alleged hatespeech. Later, he changed his statement and deleted the part of his correspondence with the said state officials when Dikembe’s lawyers demanded all email transcripts and letters he claimed to have sent to the officers.
The failure to attend may also be due to the witness’ own social media activities which is full of more hateful posts than what Dikembe was accused to have posted. Dikembe protested to NCIC the use of Mugo to sort out hate issues in the blogosphere saying he has no ‘moral authority’ to lecture people on hatespeech as he too has been accused of hate speech.
It is also alleged NCIC failed to charge the witness when Mombasa Senator Hassan Omar complained about his particularly hateful comments directed at Muslim clerics. The commission, for fear of ‘losing’ the witness, directed the complainant to be heard by the then Inspector of Police David Kimaiyo.
Even more shocking is the revelation that another prosecution witness was procured by Mugo and is a relative of the case’s investigating officer, a police corporal attached to NCIC.
While declining to hear the matter, the magistrate who has been moved to a new station gave orders for the case to be mentioned in May before hearing starts.
Orengo protested the case taking too long has put his client’s life at a standstill and wants the matter be dealt with as soon as possible.
Meanwhile, a related case of hatespeech which led to conviction of Moi University student Allan Wadi will be heard in May.
The conviction of Wadi was appealed by blogger Robert Alai and Dikembe Disembe on grounds that due process was not followed when jailing the student.
The two bloggers, through Article 19, have raised 13 grounds of their appeal and want the court to set the student free to resume his studies at the university citing gross miscarriage of justice.