A Busia magistrate has recused herself from a defilement case against a sitting MCA, citing personal safety concerns amidst threat allegations.
The case involves Bunyala West Ward Representative, Carlbenz Okonya, facing charges of defiling a 14-year-old schoolgirl. The Port Victoria magistrate, who initially presided over the case, cited concerns about personal safety and requested the case be transferred to Busia.
Busia Principal Magistrate Edna Nyaloti affirmed the decision.
“This case is being heard in Busia because the Port Victoria magistrate expressed concerns about her safety. She did not feel comfortable hearing the case. In case the ground is not good for me to handle it, I will also ask the Chief Justice to advise us on how to proceed.”
Okonya faced charges of defiling the schoolgirl and carnal knowledge of a minor during the hearing on Tuesday. He denied both charges and was remanded in custody following the magistrate’s refusal to grant bail.
The prosecution, led by Faith Kaberia, urged the court to remand Okonya in custody for 14 days citing the need to secure the safety of the teenager and her witnesses, who reportedly received threats from individuals suspected to be associated with the MCA.
Kaberia emphasized concerns that releasing the accused, a politician with significant influence, could potentially hinder the ongoing investigation and jeopardize the safety of both the victim and witnesses.
“The accused is a politician with a lot of influence. If he is released, he is likely to interfere with the investigation and even endanger the lives of the victim and witnesses. I ask this court to remand him in custody for 14 days while we look for a safe place for the complainant and her witnesses,” Kaberia pleaded.