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Court Terminates Criminal Defamation Case Against KNU Boss

Court Terminates Criminal Defamation Case Against KNU Boss
Court Terminates Criminal Defamation Case Against KNU Boss

A judge has terminated a criminal defamation case against a journalist saying it was based on a law that no longer exists.

Judge John Mativo on Wednesday said the decision by the state to continue prosecuting Kajiado News Update Editor, Kurgat Marindany is an abuse of office.

The judge, in his decision, further issued an order prohibiting the DPP from preferring charges against the journalist.

Kajiado county commissioner Harsama Kello had sued Kurgat following his coverage of an event on March 31, 2015.

This was during the launch of the Kajiado County Land Policy at the Maasai Technical Training Institute.

Kurgat was charged with defamation before a Kajiado court.

Aggrieved by the decision, he moved to court and filed a constitutional application challenging the legality of law on criminal libel.

However, before his constitutional petition was determined, another case challenging same law was determined.

In that case, the High Court declared that Section 194 was unconstitutional as it was a disproportionate limitation on the right to freedom of expression.

The court concluded that the invocation of criminal defamation for the purpose of protecting a personal reputation was ‘clearly excessive and patently disproportionate’.

The judge handling the matter further held that it was an alternative civil remedy for defamation.

Armed with this, Kurgat asked the magistrate court to drop the case against him but the quest was declined.

He moved to the High court again to have the case dropped and succeeded when the judge agreed with him and ordered that the case against him be terminated.

Justice Mativo noted that the rule of law and human rights must be observed at all times.

He also held that court orders must be honored under the new Constitution especially in an open and democratic society such as Kenya.

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