Retired judge Momanyi Bwonwong’a in a spot for releasing paedophile Terry Ray Krieger

Terry Ray Krieger in a Nairobi court on December 2, 2014. The American paedophile was sentenced to 50 years' imprisonment for child-sex offences. PHOTO | PAUL WAWERU | NATION MEDIA GROUP

A retired judge has come under heavy criticism for ordering the release of a convicted paedophile who was serving a 50-year jail term at Kamiti Maximum Prison.

Justice Momanyi Bwonwong’a, who retired in March, ordered the release of Terry Ray Krieger from Prison in November 2022 saying “It will be oppressive to order for a re-trial of the convict, who is an American citizen”.

Krieger, who was serving the jail term for taking and circulating videos of minors in nude and compromising positions, had challenged the sentence for being too harsh and punitive. The sentence was imposed on him by former Milimani Senior Principal Magistrate Joseph Karanja on December 2, 2014.

The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) had urged Justice Bwonwong’a to uphold the sentence. “I urge this court to stamp its authority by upholding the lower court’s decision and defending the rights of the minors whose rights were blatantly abused by the convict,” the DPP said.

Krieger had urged the judge to quash the sentence saying it was too harsh and also challenged the quality of the evidence availed by the prosecution.

In his judgment, Justice Bwonwong’a noted that the appellant had served eight years from the 50 years slapped on him.

“In these circumstances, this court finds that to order a re-trial of the appellant would not only be unfair but oppressive as well,” ruled Justice Bwonwong’a as he set Krieger free.

Krieger was jailed after admitting to circulating obscene images of Kenyan underage children using electronic media between May 2013 and October 2014.

In his judgment, Mr Karanja said he was shocked at the despicable acts the accused performed on innocent children. “The accused has robbed young children of their innocence and it is disturbing that these despicable acts have been going on undetected.”

In mitigation, Krieger had pleaded with the court for a light sentence saying he is physically handicapped. However, Mr Karanja said he does not deserve mercy due to the gravity of the offence, and the fact that Krieger was a repeat offender.

The Prisons department had by the time of going to press not responded to our question on the circumstances under which the suspect was freed.

Krieger’s release took place around the same time that authorities mysteriously released two Iranians — Ahmed Aboulfathi Mohamad and Sayed Mansour Mousavi — who were arrested in June 2012 on suspicion of plotting terror attacks against American and Israeli agents in Nairobi.

At the time, the government defended the move claiming the two were released after applying for an early release as they drew closer to the end of their sentence.

The two had been sentenced to life in prison by a magistrate’s court, which was reduced to 15 years by the High Court. On appeal, the Court of Appeal set them free. But the DPP moved to the Supreme Court, which settled on the High Court’s ruling.

Additional reporting by Mary Wambui