The past five years have not been kind to Samson Otieno.
On May 19, 2015, the father of six was arrested while visiting his sick daughter in school, only a day after he had buried his nephew in Nairobi.
The 40-year-old was taken to Bahati Police Station where he was notified he faced incest charges for defiling his two daughters aged nine and seven.
He allegedly defiled his elder daughter on diverse dates between 2014 and 2015. He is said to have defiled the younger daughter on May 18, 2015.
On October 26, 2016, Otieno was convicted and sentenced to two concurrent life sentences for incest. Testimonies for his defence from his two wives and two sons were not enough to save him.
He appealed the judgement and had to endure four more years in prison before his case was concluded.
However, on June 12, 2020, Justice Teresia Matheka set aside the sentences and freed Otieno.Justice Matheka ruled that Otieno’s conviction did not meet the required threshold. She observed that all the testimonies relied on by the trial court were inconsistent and contradictory and that the defilement case was never investigated.
“The minor, aged nine years gave two accounts of the event in two separate testimonies, thereby contradicting herself,” ruled Matheka.
“The minor’s testimony changed completely, from nothing happened to something happened, creating doubt as to her credibility by placing on record two completely different sets of testimony.”
The judge further noted that the dates on the charge sheet, post-rape report and investigation diary were contradictory too. The age of the minors were also different in the documents provided.
“The appeal succeeds. the conviction is quashed, the sentence set aside and the appellant is to be set free unless otherwise legally held,” she ruled.
Otieno’s celebration of his release was, however, bittersweet as his 69-year-old mother Felister Awino died days to his release.
“My mother died knowing that I molested my children. She never got the opportunity to witness my innocence being proven,” he lamented. “I left prison and immediately went to my ancestral home in Siaya County to plan my mother’s funeral.”
He said his mother, a widow, died because she lacked someone to take care of her.
“After I was jailed, my family was left hopeless. I was the sole provider for all my family members,” he said.
After Otieno’s imprisonment, his two daughters from the first wife dropped out of school and got married. His younger wife also moved on and remarried.
“I am confused, angry, disappointed and hurt. My family believed that I will spend the rest of my life in jail and moved on,” he said.
His children were also taken to juvenile homes where they stayed until January 2020, when they were reunited with their mother.
Otieno said the children were not only deprived of parental care but were also subjected to trauma during the case.
“It is clear my children were ‘coached’ to testify against me. How can somebody subject these small children to such torture?” lamented Otieno.
He also lost his home. Otieno vowed not to rest until he is compensated for the suffering he had to endure.
“I have ulcers and my legs go numb because of prison life. I was wrongly jailed and will seek compensation for myself and my children who have undergone trauma,” he added.
Unable to live with family, Otieno now stays with Raphael Ger, his younger brother. Ger said the family will try to reunite after burying their mother.
“The community is also a problem and we will try to gradually reintegrate him,” said Ger.
Ger added that his brother is in good terms with his two wives and his daughters and that there is no bad blood between them.
“He is a prisoner of emotions and we have to release him from that. We organise constant counselling to ensure he doesn’t lose himself,” Ger added.
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