Magistrate opts out of defilement case involving Busia MCA Carlbenz Okonya

Bunyala West Ward Rep Carlbenz Okonya during a past event.

Photo credit: Courtesy

A Busia magistrate has withdrawn from a case she was handling, citing threats to her life from the accused.

The case, in which Bunyala West Ward Rep Carlbenz Okonya is accused of defiling a 14-year-old schoolgirl, had to be transferred to a Busia court after the Port Victoria magistrate raised concerns about her safety and said she did not feel comfortable presiding over the matter.

"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," said Busia Principal Magistrate Edna Nyaloti.

Okonya was arraigned on Tuesday for allegedly defiling a 14-year-old schoolgirl in Busia town on August 27.

The local leader was charged with two counts of defiling the schoolgirl and carnal knowledge of a minor. He denied both charges and spent the night in custody after the magistrate refused to grant him bail.

The prosecution, led by Faith Kaberia, asked the court to remand Okonya in custody for 14 days, saying this would give them time to find a safe place for the teenager and her witnesses to stay after they reportedly received threats from known people believed to be associated with the MCA.

Ms Kaberia claimed that the suspect would sabotage the ongoing investigation if released from custody.

"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," Ms Kaberia pleaded.

The magistrate allowed police to detain Okonya for nine days.

But Okonya, through his lawyer, denied the existence of any threat to the victim or her witnesses.