Twenty-five KDF ex-soldiers charged with desertion will know their fate on December 15.
The Court of Appeal will rule on what constitutes an offence of desertion of duty in the Kenya Defence Forces.
The court will also rule on whether the soldiers should serve a life jail term.
Last week, the Director of Public Prosecution argued before appellate judges Agnes Murgor, Mumbi Ngugi, and George Odunga that the trial judge misdirected himself by failing to render judgement that meets the legal threshold.
The case has attracted a lot of interest due to its effect on local jurisprudence and maybe the lives of the ex-soldiers.
The fate of the ex-soldiers, who are currently free, will depend on the ruling.
KDF accused the ex-soldiers of deserting duty in 2007–2008 to work for US security firms in Kuwait, Iraq, and Afghanistan.
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The ex-soldiers returned to the country seven years later, in 2015. KDF used trickery and arrested and detained the ex-soldiers at the Mtongwe Base.
The 25 were handed a life sentence by three military tribunals that sat at Mtongwe Naval Base. That was between March 2014 and early 2015.
The matter, however, moved to the law courts, and the High Court in Mombasa quashed the military tribunals’ verdict on appeal and freed the ex-soldiers on August 24, 2015.
Justice Martin Muya ruled that KDF did not prove the offence of desertion.
He further noted that the charges against the 25 were defective. The judge noted the court martial erred in it’s ruling that the 25 were active in service.
KDF had argued they were still serving soldiers because they had not resigned procedurally.
The soldiers were released at approximately 8:30 pm on Monday, August 24, 2015. The few who spoke to the press accused some top-ranking people in the military of being behind their woes.
Jeffrey Pepela, the only Commissioned Officer (CO) of the lot, said going to jail had ruined his life.
“My wife eloped with another man when she heard that I had been handed a life sentence by the military court,” Pepela, then 32 years of age, told the Standard.
“I want to start all over again, but I am in no hurry to get into another relationship,” said Pepela, who was the officer (rank of Lieutenant) in charge of the Malindi naval station at the time he left the navy in October 2007.
The other officers also complained that the time they had spent in jail had caused their families untold suffering.
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