The trial of Migori Governor Okoth Obado and two other persons charged with the murder of Rongo University student Sharon Otieno is set to start on Tuesday.
However, before the trial begins, Mr Obado’s co-accused, Caspal Obiero and Michael Oyamo, want the trial Judge Jessie Lessit to disqualify herself from the case.
Mr Oyamo, who was a personal assistant to Mr Obado, and Mr Obiero, a clerk at the Migori county government, stated that they are apprehensive that they may not get a fair trial before the judge, especially after she declined to release them on bond, while Mr Obado was granted the request.
The two spent several months in remand until they were released on bond last December by the Court of Appeal.
Justice Lessit had ordered Mr Obado to deposit cash bail of Sh5 million in court to secure his release. The judge had further ordered him to provide two sureties of Sh5 million each.
Mr Obado had been barred from going anywhere within 20 kilometres of Homa Bay County boundary and was warned against contacting or intimidating, “whether directly or by proxy” any of the witnesses in the case.
The Migori county boss later went back to the judge seeking a review of the terms, especially regarding travelling anywhere close to the Homa Bay county boundary arguing that it inhibited the discharge of his duties as governor.
The judge heard his pleas and reviewed the order but he was restrained from mentioning or discussing Ms Otieno and or the case in gatherings or political meetings. So far he has heeded the judge’s warning and kept off the subject.
In his application, Mr Obiero said despite not being mentioned anywhere in the statements, the court appeared to have made up its mind regarding the allegations even before witnesses took to the stand.
Mr Oyamo on his part argues that the court made a finding that releasing him was likely to disturb public order and peace.
He said the finding was not premised on any evidence because there was nothing on record regarding the disturbance of public order during his arrest. He said he presented himself to the police and the issue of disturbing public order did not arise.
In a sworn statement, he further argued that he would like the trial to proceed in an environment in which he would have confidence of a realistic chance of justice being served and being accorded a fair trial.
Mr Obado, Mr Oyamo and Mr Obiero have denied murdering 26-year-old Sharon, an offence they allegedly committed between September 3 and 4 last year in Owade, in Rachuonyo sub-county, Homa Bay County.
The three have also been charged with the murder of Sharon’s unborn baby.
Some 24 witnesses are set to testify in the case.