Baby Sagini: State swaps attempted murder charge with grievous bodily harm

baby sagini suspects court

Ms Rael Mayaka (left), Ms Pacificah Nyakerario (centre) and Mr Alex Maina Ochogo (in handcuffs) moments after leaving the magistrate court in Kisii on January 18, 2023. Inset is Junior Sagini, whose eyes were gouged out. 

Photo credit: Ondari Ogega | Nation Media Group

The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) has substituted the attempted murder charge facing three people linked to the case of baby Junior Sagini, whose eyes were gouged out, to grievous bodily harm.

Prosecutor Hillary Kaino said the charge was amended based on evidence that the facts of the case might not support the attempted murder charge. 

The changes came up when the accused, Mr Alex Ochogo (cousin of Sagini), Pacifica Nyakerario (aunt) and Rael Nyakerario Mayaka (grandmother) appeared in a Kisii court on Thursday.

“The facts as we have now clearly support a charge of grievous harm. With me is a substituted charge dated February 2, 2023,” said Mr Kaino as he sought to amend the charges.

The new charges were read out to the accused, who were then asked to take plea afresh.

baby sagini suspects court

From left: Suspects Alex Maina Ochogo (second left), Pacificah Nyakerario and Rael Mayaka (grandmother) at the magistrate court in Kisii on February 2, 2023.

Photo credit: Ruth Mbula | Nation Media Group

Drama ensued in the court after Ms Nyakerario and Ms Mayaka initially pleaded guilty to the new charges, but the prosecution and presiding magistrate argued that they may not have understood the questions posed to them.

They later pleaded not guilty to the offence, with Ms Mayaka, Sagini’s grandmother, accusing Mr Ochogo of gouging out the eyes of the three-year-old boy.

No lawyers 

The state said the suspects have a right to legal representation.

“The hearings will be weighty. It is important that they have legal representation at this point to ensure they understand the proceedings of the court and other requirements. The back and forth is not good, it would be easier if they had an advocate,” said Mr Kaino.

“I know it will be a struggle for the second and third accused to be able to sustain a trial. Mr Kerosi and Ms Moguche please take up the matter, and that is only if you will appear on the given dates,” said Kisii Senior Resident Magistrate Christine Ogweno.

The magistrate then assigned lawyers Kerosi Ondieki and Violet Moguche to defend the suspects. “The court hereby appoints Mr Kerosi and Ms Moguche to appear for the three accused during the trial period. I hope that appointment is well received.” 

The magistrate also sought to know the welfare of Mr Ochogo at Kisii prison after he lamented about bedbugs in the last court session.

However, on Thursday, the suspect said he was now okay and that the blood-sucking insects were no longer an issue.

Sagini had been living with his grandmother and father in Marani, Kisii County, when the attack happened. He was found dumped in a maize plantation with his eyes gouged out on December 13, 2022.

The next hearings will be on February 24 and March 3, 2023.