This is why murder suspects undergo mental tests

by Wakili Liam

You have always heard from court cases involving murder, that the suspect must undergo psychiatrist tests so as to determine if they can stand trial. However, is this in the law or just a tradition?

According to senior lawyers Jared Magola and Gikandi Ngibuini, the psychiatric test is mandatory for all High Courts handling murder cases in order to ensure a suspect has the capacity to plead to murder charges.

Magolo however, argues that the mental evaluation of murder suspects, a creation of the High Court, has become a tradition and he has handled several cases where it was never a condition for plea-taking.

There however have been different views on what happens when a suspect is found to be insane upon taking a psychiatrist test.

A section of lawyers says that if a suspect turns out to be insane, they will not take plea and there will be no trial and instead will be committed for treatment at a mental facility.

Other lawyers also say that if one is found to be insane, the trial will proceed and if found guilty, the judgment will indicate guilty but insane.

The accused will, under such circumstances, be confined to a mental facility where he will undergo treatment until the doctors approve his sanity.

If the suspect is proved to be sane by the doctors, the DPP shall inform the court if they want to proceed with the charges or not.

Misused system

A few months ago, a friend intimated to me how Kenyans have exploited the psychiatric evaluation tests to make relatives go scot-free.

Some people have taken their relatives who are facing rape, murder or manslaughter charges to Mathari Mental Hospital (Mathari National Teaching and Refferal Hospital) where they bribe the nurses to inject them with drugs and write reports that they are insane.

Most end up spending between 3 to 8 years at the institution, by that time the cases get weak and as aggrieved party moves on, these unscrupulous Kenyans whist their ‘mentally-challenged’ relatives from Mathari to rural areas unnoticed.

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