Former rugby player Alex Obala appeals against 8-year jail term

By , K24 Digital
On Thu, 8 Jun, 2023 17:15 | 4 mins read
Former Rugny player Alex Obala at a past court proceding. PHOTO/Courtesy

The former Kenya Sevens and Kenya Harlequins player Alex Olaba has appealed against his 8-year jail term for hatching a plot to kill a prosecution witness in his gang rape case four years ago.

Obala, in his appeal, argues that trial magistrate Geoffrey Onsarigo convicted and jailed him when the charges of conspiracy to kill and conspiracy to defeat justice were not proved beyond reasonable doubt and wants the High Court to overturn the decision.

"The Trial Magistrate erred in law and fact by not taking into consideration that, the prosecution failed to prove the charges of conspiracy to murder beyond a reasonable doubt, as it did not prove the ingredients of the offence as required and provided for, in Section 224 of the Penal Code, Chapter 63 Laws of Kenya," Obala says.

Obala has lodged the appeal after being dissatisfied with the trial court's decision to slap him with six years on count one of conspiracy to kill and two years imprisonment in the second account of interference with the judicial process in the case in which he is charged alongside former Kenya Rugby Seven player Frank Wanyama over gangrape pending before Milimani Chief Magistrates court.

Through lawyer Cliff Oduk, Obala wants the superior court to set aside the conviction and sentence imposed on him late last month claiming that the magistrate Onsarigo failed to take into consideration his defence before reaching the impugned verdict.

The rugby player also argues that he was wrongly convicted even after proving that he was not in Nairobi when the alleged offences were said to have been committed.

He adds that the trial magistrate convicted him based on uncorroborated evidence as most of the prosecution witnesses who testified in the case gave inconsistent evidence regarding the circumstance of the offence.

"Obala’s conviction is against the weight of evidence. The Trial Magistrate erred in law and fact by ignoring or not weighing sufficiently, and not judiciously appreciating the inconsistent and contradictory evidence of the prosecution witnesses. The Magistrate also erred by considering the prosecution witnesses who told numerous untruths, were cunning, unreliable and evasive, forgetful and contradictory on material aspects," Lawyer Oduk states.

Further, Obala faults the magistrate's decision to admit and rely on a generic Victim Impact Assessment Statement of the victim in the gang rape case pending before the Milimani law courts claiming that she did not participate in the proceedings of interference with the state witnesses.

"It was wrong to convict for the magistrate to fail to consider that the alleged victim KA, neither recorded a statement nor was she a witness before the trial court," Obala argued.

The rugby player also claims that the Magistrate erred in law and fact in relying upon and admitting entrapment evidence to convict and sentence him.

According to him, his conviction is an error and the state did not table evidence in court indicating the place and the day the alleged key prosecution witnesses in his rape case was to be eliminated.

"The Trial Magistrate erred in law and fact failing to consider that, no specific evidence was adduced in regards to the nature, time, manner and place that the alleged victim would be killed," Obala added.

He also faults Onsarigo's verdict saying he deliberately failed to consider that no specific evidence was adduced by the state witnesses in regard to the bank account and receipt of the alleged money of Ksh 10,000 down payment paid to the hitman to eliminate the key witnesses in the rape case.

"I urge the court to find that the conviction is unsafe and the same be set aside and sentence quashed," Obala who is currently serving the jail term seeks.

Obala sentenced

Obala was jailed after the court on May 10, 2023, convicted him after finding him guilty of attempting to kill the key prosecution witnesses in his rape case.

"After evaluating the evidence on record, l find the Prosecution has established a prima facie case against the accused. I, therefore, convict him accordingly, " the trial magistrate stated in his judgement

During the hearing of the case, the prosecution witnesses including investigating officer George Otieno told the court that Obala made several attempts, directly and indirectly, to contact a State witness in the gang rape case with the intention of interfering with his trial.

He said when Obala failed to get a positive response, he resorted to unlawful and desperate means to silence the witness.

Obala was arrested at Madaraka Estate, Nairobi in 2021 by undercover detectives on the night he was planning the said murder.

Police told the court that Obala had approached another party and paid him seeking ways to eliminate the witness in the case before police were informed.

According to the prosecution, the approached party was apparently an undercover officer. He committed the offence on diverse dates between April 14 and 22 back in 2022. he is said to have conspired with other suspects still at large to kill the unnamed witness.

The second count states that on April 22, 2021, Obala interfered with the trial process in the gang rape matter by attempting to cause the death of the key witness.

In the rape case where the High Court has ordered a retrial of Obala and Wanyama, their prosecution has since been suspended by the Court of Appeal pending the determination of their case that concerns the admissibility of the complainant’s evidence as she testified without taking oath in court.

Their appeal is against the High Court’s decision to quash their 15-year jail term and order a fresh trial, instead of releasing them.

They had been sentenced to 15 years imprisonment each by a magistrate court after being found guilty of sexually assaulting a woman on February 11, 2018, at Seefa Apartments in Highrise, Nairobi.

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