LACK of cooperation from witnesses in murder cases has contributed to the backlog of over 90 murder cases at the Eldoret High Court.
Some of these cases have been in court for more than 10 years without being mentioned after the disappearance of key witnesses. That has put the prosecution in a confusing situation regarding the fate of the relevant case.
In December 2023, the presiding judge of the North Rift courts, Judge Reuben Nyakundi threatened to withdraw all murder cases that have been pending in court for more than five years. Judge Nyakundi challenged the prosecution to commit to ensuring that they conduct their cases within a reasonable time.
“The court cannot allow people to remain in custody for more than five years, if the prosecution is not ready to proceed with their cases, soon the court will remove such cases in accordance with the law,” said Judge Nyakundi during a meeting with local leaders in the county The Kapseret Subcommittee on the Alternative Justice System (AJS) on December 18.
The concern of Judge Nyakundi has been revealed by the case which has been in court for more than eight years without continuing due to the failure of the prosecution to present their witnesses in court. Earlier last week, the government lawyer Emman Okok explained to the court his frustration due to the murder case that has been in court for about eight years where the witnesses have not come to court for all that time and forced the prosecution to postpone the case from time to time.
The case has been postponed 14 times due to the failure of the witnesses to appear in court. In the case, two people are charged, for killing a farmer from Kesses sub-county in 2016. Ms. Okok told the court that at the beginning of the trial, the government had gathered more than 10 witnesses who have disappeared.
The accused Sammy Kipkorir and David Kanda are facing the murder of Erick Kiplagat. The two are suspected of killing Mr Kiplagat on December 23, 2016 in Chakaiya village in Kesses sub-county, Uasin Gishu.
Despite issuing permits for witnesses to be arrested and brought to court, 10 main witnesses for the prosecution, these witnesses have never appeared in court since the defendants denied the case against them.
Judge Robert Wananda ordered the case to be mentioned on July 9 for the court to give direction.