Babu Owino walked free from the criminal case that would have led to life imprisonment if convicted, after trial magistrate Bernard Ochoi ruled there was insufficient evidence for the offence of misuse of firearm, and allowed an out of court settlement with the victim for attempted murder.
The MP was caught on CCTV allegedly shooting a disk jockey, Felix Orinda alias DJ Evolve, in the neck on the night of 17 January 2020 during a party. Orinda was hospitalised for six months and has been left paralysed.
What would have been a criminal case of attempted murder ended when the MP invoked provisions for ADR to keep himself out of jail and save his political career. Meanwhile, the magistrate blamed the prosecution and investigators for failing to prove the charge of misuse of a firearm.
“Having considered the evidence, I find that the prosecution failed to prove the case beyond reasonable doubt. They did not present a ballistics report to prove the gun belonged to the MP or whether he was drunk and behaved in a disorderly manner,” ruled the magistrate.
Although Owino was acquitted by the magistrate, the deal with the victim to have the matter settled out of court has raised a debate over the use of ADR to settle criminal cases.
The settlement was approved by both the Director of Public Prosecution and the magistrate, and involved the MP agreeing to take care of and support the victim who is paralysed as a result of the gunshot wound.
Under the agreement, the MP paid the entire Sh17 million (US$116 500) hospital bill incurred by the victim for treatment and the cost of nursing and homecare based on advice from doctors.
“He is also to pay for medical check-ups, physiotherapy and counselling, regular acupuncture treatment to straighten the nerves and the cost of any arising complication from the gunshot injuries,” read the settlement deal.
The legislator will further provide a fully set up music academy for the victim to help him generate income, will provide financial support to cater for bills, will buy him a car and will build a permanent house for his family within five years.
In return, the victim agreed to have the attempted murder charge withdrawn and to seek peace to heal away from the court case. He and his family further committed never to lodge another criminal complaint against the politician in relation to the incident.
The ADR agreement did, however, provide a caveat allowing the victim and his family to file a civil case for compensation in the event the MP failed to honour the arrangement and pay for incurred medical expenses.
The magistrate, while allowing the out of court settlement, noted that if any party fails to comply with the terms, then either party will be at liberty to rescind the deal and sue for breach of agreement.
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