It is a big win for former National Olympics Committee of Kenya (NOCK) official Stephen Soi after the High Court quashed a 17-year jail term imposed on him by the Anti-corruption court over the Ksh55 million Rio 2016 Olympics scandal.
A judgement rendered by Justice Esther Maina of the Anti-corruption High Court on Thursday, November 24, overturned the lower court's decision to convict and sentence Soi after finding that his appeal was merited.
The judge ordered that Soi who has been serving a 17-year jail term at Kamiti Maximum Security Prison since September last year after failing to raise Ksh115 million be released immediately.
"The court has found merit in the appeal and it has allowed it, quashed the conviction and set aside the sentences and directed that Soi be released set at liberty forthwith unless otherwise lawfully held," Justice Maina ruled.
While setting aside the sentence, Justice Maina noted that the trial magistrate did not consider the defence adduced by soi adding that if his defence was considered the court would have arrived at a different conclusion.
The decision comes after Soi through lawyers Bosek Kimutai and Julius Kitheka appealed to the trial court's decision on grounds that he was wrongly convicted for the Ksh55 million Rio 2016 Olympics scandal, claiming that no funds were lost.
Soi had accused the trial magistrate Elizabeth Juma of bias, claiming that he was convicted and sentenced for charges the prosecutor had not preferred against him.
He stated that he was condemned unfairly, maliciously, discriminatively, and on the misinterpretation of the law.
It was his argument that the magistrate erred in law by ruling that he unlawfully authorized payment of excess allowances to team Kenya.
Soi also faults the evidence that the court lied to convict him saying the millions of shillings he is accused of receiving were paid to other officers at NOCK when he was already in Brazil.
Soi was sentenced alongside former Sports Cabinet Secretary Hassan Wario over the loss of public funds during the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
The court directed Wario to pay a fine of Ksh1.2 million or serve one year in prison for the three abuse of office charges he faced while Soi was directed to pay a fine of Ksh115 million in default 17 years in prison on the five offences of abuse of office and willful failure to comply with public procurement guidelines and laws.
Sentencing the two, magistrate Juma said the offences they committed were serious even though they did not benefit individually from the money the government of Kenya lost they will not escape liability.
She added that the two took advantage of the positions and abused the same by approving the inclusion of the three other persons who were not part of team Kenya to travel to Rio, Brazil.