The Court of Appeal in Mombasa has overturned the acquittal of 25 former Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) officers, ordering a re-hearing of their appeal. This decision follows the submission of an appeal by the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions challenging the initial High Court ruling that set aside the convictions of the servicemen.

The original case stemmed from charges of desertion brought against the 25 officers by a court-martial, as outlined in Section 74(1)(a) of the Kenya Defence Forces Act 2012. Despite pleading not guilty, the officers were found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment by the court-martial.

Discontented with the verdict, the former KDF officers pursued an appeal at the High Court. In August 2015, the appellate court ruled in their favor, overturning both the conviction and the sentence, and subsequently releasing all respondents.

However, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions contested the High Court’s decision, asserting that it failed to adequately assess the findings of the court-martial and erred in acquitting the respondents. Counsel Yamina Jami argued that a more thorough review of the individual appeals was warranted instead of a blanket ruling for all 25 officers.

In their judgment, Justices Agnes Murgor, Mumbi Ngugi, and George Odunga concluded that a re-hearing of the appeal was necessary. They stipulated that the re-trial should be conducted by a different High Court judge to ensure impartiality and thorough consideration of the case. Moreover, they emphasized the need for expeditious proceedings, taking into account the time already elapsed.

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