Rio scandal: Court quashes jail sentence for Stephen Soi

Stephen Soi

Stephen arap Soi at the Milimani Courts in Nairobi on September 15, 2021.

Photo credit: File

What you need to know:

  • Soi was handed a 17-year sentence for corruption. 
  • He disputed and claimed no funds were lost. Soi accused the trial magistrate of bias, claiming that he was convicted and sentenced for charges the prosecutor had not preferred against him.

The High Court on Thursday quashed the jail sentence of former National Olympics Committee of Kenya official Stephen arap Soi who was convicted in the Sh55 million Rio 2016 Olympics.

Soi was handed a 17-year sentence for corruption. 

He disputed and claimed no funds were lost. Soi accused the trial magistrate of bias, claiming that he was convicted and sentenced for charges the prosecutor had not preferred against him.

He stated that he was condemned unfairly, maliciously, discriminatively, and on the misinterpretation of the law. 

Mr Soi was fined Sh105.6 million in default after being found guilty of eight counts of corruption-related offences. He was sentenced on September 16, 2021 by the Chief Magistrate, Elizabeth Juma, at Milimani, Nairobi.

Allowing Mr Soi's appeal, Justice Esther Maina said the former police boss was wrongly convicted for the graft scandal that also saw him leave office.

He had been convicted alongside former Sports Cabinet Minister Hassan Wario, who also has a pending appeal.

Four other co-accused – Richard Ekai, the then principal secretary in the Ministry of Sports, Haron Komen, Francis Kinyili Paul and Patrick Nkabu Kimani – were acquitted by the trial magistrate.

The judge said the trial magistrate, Elizabeth Juma, failed to consider Mr Soi's defence.

Justice Esther Maina overturned the lower court's decision entirely to convict and sentence Mr Soi after finding that his appeal to be merited.

The judge ordered that Mr Soi, who has been serving a 17-year jail term after failing to raise the Sh115 million at Kamiti Maximum Security Prison, to be immediately set free.

"The court has found merit in the appeal and it has allowed it, quashed the conviction and set aside the sentences and directed that Soi be released set at liberty forthwith unless otherwise lawfully held," Justice Maina ruled.

Justice Maina noted that the trial magistrate did not consider the defence adduced by Mr Soi.

The decision comes after Mr Soi's lawyers appealed against the trial court's decision on grounds that he was wrongly convicted since no funds were lost.

In faulting the trial court, Mr Soi said the magistrate was biased claiming that he was convicted and sentenced for charges the prosecutor had not preferred against him.

It was his argument that the magistrate erred in law by ruling that he unlawfully authorised payment of excess allowances to Team Kenya.

Additionally, he was jailed though he never received the money he is accused of misappropriating.

Mr Soi said he was not an AIE (Authority to Incur Expenditure) holder or the accounting officer appointed by the National Olympics Committee of Kenya (NOC-K) on the mission to Rio in Brazil.

The judge heard that the accounting officer was Richard Ekai, who was acquitted by the trial court.

Further, he said he was discriminated against and condemned to pay fines for allowances said to have been overpaid to athletes and sports officials, yet the decision was arrived at by the National Steering Committee, which comprises several individuals.

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