faked hiv status to buy a judge’s sympathy

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Members of Sonko Rescue Team clear garbage in the city.
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Glorious criminal past

While Senator, and as he geared up to campaign for governor, it came out that Sonko had several pending matters in court, whose criminal nature made it seem that he would be barred from running, in accordance with Chapter Six of the Constitution.

According to then Mombasa Chief Magistrate Evans Makori, Sonko had active warrants of arrest against him, which were issued by then Resident Magistrate Mugambi Mbaabu for cases filed in 1997 and 1998. Sonko had been charged with four counts of obtaining money by false pretence, stealing goods, handling stolen property and forgery.

After his arraignment, he was released on bond but absconded from court. When these events came to light in 2017, only the warrant of arrest could be traced in the court register. When People Daily reported the story, it quoted a senior court registrar who confirmed that although they were issued long ago, the warrants of arrest remained in force, and that “the complainants in the matter can come out at any time and pursue the cases. Not surprisingly, the files could not be traced.

In criminal application no 80 of 2001, the High court in Nairobi agreed to reduce a two-year prison sentence Sonko had been serving for obtaining money by false pretences on 2 separate occasions- criminal cases 17197 of 1996 and 675 of 1997. The Court found that Sonko had proven that he was HIV Positive and therefore liable for parole under sections 362 and 364 of the Criminal Procedure Code. His sentence was reduced by 3 months.

Some of the charges the governor has faced are listed under case files 196 of 1998, where he was accused of obtaining money by false pretense; and 630 of 1998, for handling stolen property, committing forgery, stealing and obtained goods by false pretense. It is not clear how these cases were concluded as their records remained unfilled. Other case file numbers are 950 and 951 of 1997, whose records could not be traced.

A spade by its name

In the run-up to elections last year, lawyer Miguna, who vied as an independent, called Sonko a “thief and a land grabber”, and ruled out any possibility of working with him in government.

Miguna also trashed the so-called Sonko Rescue Team, which he asserted was a front for drug peddling. He had credible evidence, he insisted, and was ready to testify, even daring Sonko to sue him if he wanted.

Sonko has since nominated Miguna – whom the government steadfastly refuses to recognise as a Kenyan citizen – as his deputy. The lawyer has not said whether he will accept the nomination. 

Disappearing witnesses

In 2011, Sonko had a case whose nature was a “criminal conspiracy to defraud”. At subsequent mentions, the Kibera court was told that key witnesses in Sh18 million fraud case could not be traced. It would later emerge that his accuser, Praveen Misra, had relocated to India soon after the case began; as well, the officer investigating the case had also died under mysterious circumstances.

It is rumoured that Sonko intimidated Misra into leaving the country in a hurry and abandoning his case, while the investigating officer’s death, just before he could give his testimony, points to foul play. Even more curious is the fact that no progress had been made on the case since the year 2000 when Misra first reported the case.

In the matter, Misra accused Sonko of obtaining assorted fabric worth over Sh18 million falsely from him in May of 2000, by presenting a fake purchase order.(

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