Voi Magistrate Court on Monday slapped three suspects with a 15-year jail term each after they were found guilty of being in possession of wildlife trophies.
The three Kaviha Charo, Katana Unda and Bugo Suluhu had pleaded guilty to three charges when they first appeared in court on June 21st.
While pronouncing judgement, Voi Principal Magistrate Cecilia Kithinji noted that the crime the three were accused of posed a critical threat to wildlife which was a national heritage.
“There is a danger of wiping out wildlife species due to poaching activities thus the law will not be lenient to such offenders as the domestic trade poses the largest threat to wildlife species,” noted the principal magistrate.
For the first count, each of the three was slapped with a ten-year jail term and a fine of Sh1 million or an additional one-year in prison should they fail to pay the fine. In the second count, the court handed the trio a one-year term each and a fine of Sh1million. Failure to pay the fine would attract another one-year jail term.
For the third count, each of the three accused would serve a two-year jail term and a fine of Sh200, 000. If they were unable to raise the fine, they should serve an additional six months.
The three were arrested at Akales area in Galana Ranch in Kilifi County on 19th June with game meat weighing 596kgs. They were also found with 25 roasted heads of dik-diks and hunting materials that were being ferried on five motorcycles. Two of the accomplices managed to escape.
On June 28, the case was adjourned for the court to determine the age of one of the accused identified as Bugo Suluhu. The suspect had alleged that he was a minor aged sixteen. The prosecution informed the court that the accused was a frequent absentee learner at Baricho Primary School. The suspect’s parents echoed the claim that the suspect was a minor but there was no proof as they never availed the birth certificate for verification. Enquiries from the chief of the area from where the suspect came from indicated the suspect was aged 23.
The prosecution went for a hospital age assessment that was conducted at Moi County Referral Hospital in Voi Sub-County. This assessment determined that the accused was aged 21. It was this report that allowed the court to deliver its judgement.
The sentences from the three counts will run concurrently. The three were asked to file an appeal within 14days.
By Raphew F Mukuyia and Wagema Mwangi