Journalist Jacque Maribe’s career hangs in the balance after the state yesterday opposed her release on bail, saying her appearance on TV will intimidate witnesses.
Prosecution counsel Catherine Mwaniki told Justice James Wakiaga that it will be unfair if Maribe continues to appear on TV screens, especially when witnesses have to testify against her. She urged the court to consider her profession when ruling on whether to grant her bail.
“I urge you to consider that the second accused person is a news anchor and if released on bail, the court should give alternative conditions to ensure she does not intimidate the witnesses,” she said.
Mwaniki said Maribe is associated with influential people and it is likely she will interfere with and intimidate key prosecution witnesses. She told the court that Maribe’s account in the murder case is not entirely truthful and her argument she is a single mother and needs to tend to her son is not enough, as she has a supportive family that can take care of the child.
But Maribe’s lawyer Katwa Kigen said her employment is a stand-alone and should not be cited as a reason to deny her bail.
Maribe and her fiancé Joseph Irungu, alias Jowie, have been in remand for one month now after they were charged with the gruesome murder of Monica Kimani. They deny any wrongdoing.
Yesterday, the two were charged afresh after the prosecution amended the charge sheet to include “other suspects not before court”.
Mwaniki said the charges are serious and attract a death penalty.
She said investigations are underway and the suspects would interfere with the case if freed.
Mwaniki said Jowie is a flight risk because the nature of his work indicates he has travelled to Middle East countries including Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan and he possesses an unlicensed firearm.
She told the court Jowie has not been cooperating with the police and the information he has given is not true.
“Unless the court gives an environment conducive to fair trial by detaining the two, the witnesses will not testify. The court has the duty to rule into rights of the accused and the deceased whose life was taken away,” she said.
Jowie is said to be a trained security officer who has been providing security to prominent politicians.
Mwaniki said it’s for that reason that he should be kept under close supervision, as he is also a danger to himself and others, especially after he shot himself after the murder.
The defence team, led by Kigen and Cliff Ombeta, opposed the application on grounds the prosecution had not tabled compelling reasons to deny their clients bail.
Ombeta said the prosecution’s claim that the accused will interfere with witnesses is just an assumption and not a fact.
“If they are released on bail, they’ll comply with all conditions that the court will impose to ensure their attendance during trial,” they said.
The victim’s family also opposed their release, saying they live in fear, as the motive of the killing has not been established.
They want Jowie and Maribe remanded until some of them, who are witnesses in the case, are put under protection.
“The family is in fear that if the suspects are released, they might also be targets, as Irungu is alleged to have sent a text message to Monica’s brother George Kimani a day before she was killed,” the victims lawyer said.
On Tuesday next week, Wakiaga, in making his ruling, will also be relying on a pre-bail report tabled by probation officer Clement Oketch.
Maribe remains detained at the Lang’ata Women’s Prison while Jowie is at Industrial Area Remand Prison.
Wakiaga directed the Industrial Area Prison boss to facilitate Jowie’s medication at a private hospital where he is expected to undergo surgery. He also directed that Empowering Africa Through the Media, an NGO that was seeking to participate in the case, make a formal application with supporting documents to show why it should be included.