The Milimani court in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi has granted bail to eight Members of Parliament who were detained earlier this week on charges of inciting violence using hate speech.
The judge had ordered the detention of the MPs to pave way for further investigations into the matter.
On Friday however, judge Daniel Ogembo granted a bail request by the defence lawyers.
This is a moment for all of to do some soul searching about where we want our country to go.
Six of the MPs made up of mostly opposition coalition CORD members and one other from the ruling Jubilee coalition were released after signing a bond of Sh 1 million (approx. $9,704) and posting a cash bail of Sh 300,000 (approx. $2,911) each.
The two other MPs, Moses Kuria and Ferdinand Waititu who are said to have previous hate speech charges, denied the charges and were released on a Sh5 million (approx. $48,500) bond and an alternative Sh2 million cash (approx. $19, 407) bail each.
CORD, Jubilee legislators charged in court over hate speech – The Standard Digital News (press release) (blog) https://t.co/lolYDQdoY1— Kenya Travel Tips (@kenya_travels) June 17, 2016
The judge warned all the legislators about the seriousness of the charges against them and expressed great concern that the two MPs Kuria and Waititu were facing similar charges.
Judge Ogembo is quoted by the Kenyan news portal The Star as saying: “This is a moment for all of to do some soul searching about where we want our country to go.”
Former Prime Minister, Raila Odinga who was the target of the hate speech said he had forgiven Moses Kuria who had called for his assassination “for what he has said. Jesus said father forgive them for they know not what they’re doing”.
Kuria’s comments sparked a backlash from opposition legislators some of whom were in the dock with him on Friday.
“I believe that somebody who wants to kill does not go and stand on top of a tree and begin to announce that am going to kill so and so, that might have been a way to try convey a message of blackmail and intimidation but that must not be allowed to succeed” Odinga told journalists after the court session.
He also indicated that the court’s ruling “will stand for some time” as it “made some certain observations which are very much in accord in what we believe in.”
There has been a surge in the use of inflamatory statements at political rallies ahead of the country’s presidential and legislative elections next year.
Over a thousand people were killed in ethnic violence that erupted in the aftermath of the 2007 elections in Kenya.
AFP, News Agencies