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ODPP wants Shakahola victims forced to eat

The prosecution is seeking a court order for 65 people rescued from Shakahola forest to be detained at the Shimo la Tewa prison and forced to eat after they staged a hunger strike.

The men and women, who were rescued while in poor health conditions, have been undergoing counseling at a rescue centre in Mtwapa.

Senior Principal Magistrate Joe Omido heard that they staged a hunger strike last week, threatening to starve themselves to death.

The state also produced a charge sheet in court, in which the 38 women and 27 men were accused of attempted suicide. However, they were not required to plead with the state, asking the court to give further direction later.

Senior Principal Prosecution Counsel SPPC Jami Yamani and Principal Prosecution Counsel (PPC) Juma Victor Owiti asked Omido to issue an order directing the medical officer in charge of Shimo la Tewa prison to forcefully feed the victims.

Jami submitted that the victims were taken to hospitals after they were rescued, emaciated, with some almost dying, and had undergone counseling by trained DCI officers.

The two senior prosecutors said the rescue centers where they have been held have no capacity to hold them anymore due to the hunger strike.

The prosecution further submitted that detaining the Shakahola survivors inside the highly guarded prison would enable the investigators to treat them as both victims and suspects.

The court was also asked to order that each of the 65 suspects be subjected to a mental health assessment by a qualified psychiatrist and that the report be filed in court.

Jami and Owiti further told the court that at the prison facility, the group will be forcefully fed without being tortured or their rights breached, adding that they need to be in an environment where they can be examined medically and a report filed in court and shared with the investigators.

The court will rule Thursday on whether it will grant the state’s application to have the suspects held at the Shimo la Tewa prison or not.

by Sadik Hassan and Andrew Hinga

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