Police yet to contact ‘Nation’ reporter four days after release
Police are yet to contact Nation reporter Walter Menya four days after a court released him, an indicator that he is unlikely to be charged with any offence any time soon.
While releasing Mr Menya unconditionally, dismissing a request by the prosecution to have him released on a personal bond, Senior Principal Magistrate Martha Mutuku said the police were at liberty to summon Mr Menya “if need be for purposes of any further investigations”.
But by Saturday, no contact had been made to Mr Menya. Police had confiscated his phone and laptop when they arrested him on June 18.
Police investigator Moses Gituathi had on Monday told the court that they needed Mr Menya at the station when examining his phone. But on Saturday, the journalist said that he had not been contacted in relation to accessing any material on his phone that is still with the police.
With one working day remaining before Wednesday when Mr Menya is expected back in court for the State to say whether his items should be returned to him, the writer said he was not sure whether the police had gained access to his gadgets by themselves or they had ceased probing them altogether.
“They may be watching me but I’ve not heard from them,” he said.
The items being held by police are his phone, laptop and charger and the clothes he was wearing when he was arrested.
Director of Public Prosecutions Keriako Tobiko had directed those investigating Mr Menya’s case to complete their probe then forward the file to him to give directions on the way forward.
It remains to be seen whether Mr Tobiko will have made a decision during Wednesday’s mentioning date. But on the day she released Mr Menya, the magistrate noted that the State had done little to indicate the progress of investigations.
“The police were granted one day to conclude their investigations. It has not been demonstrated to the court what has been done in regard to the investigation and what remains to be done,” she said.
Police arrested Mr Menya following allegations that he demanded Sh50,000 from one Kennedy Koros in order to kill a story published in last week’s edition of the Sunday Nation.
Mr Gituathi told the court on Monday that Mr Menya had earlier received Sh32,000 on M-Pesa and he was arrested after receiving Sh20,000 in cash.
“During the arrest (Mr Menya) was found in possession of Sh20,000 which was treated for evidence collection after the report was made and the same was kept as an exhibit,” he said in his affidavit as he applied for Mr Menya to be detained for three more days.
“The recovered money and the clothes that he was wearing at the time are yet to be submitted to the government chemist.”
The magistrate granted the State one day to complete investigations and when they returned to court on Tuesday, she released Mr Menya.
On Saturday, the journalist said he has had a quiet week at home. “The most important thing was to gain freedom,” he said.
Members of his family had travelled from far and wide to comfort him during the two days he spent in police cells and in court.
“Their (family members) only concern is that life is more important than the stories I write,” Mr Menya said with a chuckle.
Siaya Senator James Orengo led a team of five lawyers who represented Mr Menya in court, among them former Law Society of Kenya CEO Apollo Mboya and vocal city lawyer Nelson Havi. “It was so selfless of them,” Mr Menya said of the lawyers.
“I was told that Mr Orengo was at home campaigning and he had to cut short his campaign to travel to Nairobi,” he said.
Mr Orengo told the magistrate on Monday that in his career as a lawyer, he has learnt that when the State begins such actions against journalists, “it never ends”.
Mr Menya has also not seen or heard from Mr Koros, an intern at the NGO Coordination Board who supplied him with the documents to enable him to do the story.