Eddy Reuben Illah was yesterday charged in a Kiambu court with posting on social media pictures allegedly showing the bodies of Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) soldiers who were attacked and killed in Friday’s attack by Al-Shabaab militants in El-Adde, Somalia.
He was accused that on January 16, 2016 at an unknown place within Kenya, he distributed pictures allegedly showing dead KDF soldiers through a WhatsApp group called “Youth People’s Union”.
The charge sheet further said that he did so knowing that the pictures were grossly offensive and with an intent to cause needless anxiety to the family members of the officers and Kenyans in general.
When he appeared before Kiambu Principal Magistrate Justus Kituku, Mr Eddy Reuben Illah denied sharing the images with a WhatsApp group using his mobile phone.
The prosecutor said Eddy committed a crime under Section 29 of the Kenya Information and Communication (KICA) Act 2009.
Eddy Reuben Illah’s charge is different from all other charges against Kenyans using the same Section 29. All other charges were about posting comments on Facebook and Twitter, which the aggrieved parties felt were injurious to them. However for him, he is alleged to have shared it in a WhatsApp group.
The Act defines telecommunications system as
“telecommunication system” means a system for the conveyance, through the agency of electric, magnetic, electro-magnetic, electrochemical or electro-mechanical energy, of—
(i) speech, music and other sounds;
(ii) visual images;
(iv) signals serving for the impartation (whether as between persons and persons, things and things or persons and things) of any matter otherwise than in the form of sound, visual images or data; or
(v) signals serving for the activation or control of machinery or apparatus and includes any cable for the distribution of anything falling within (i) to (iv) above;
Improper use of system is explained in Section 29 as;
A person who by means of a licensed telecommunication system—
(a) sends a message or other matter that is grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character; or
(b) sends a message that he knows to be false for the purpose of causing annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety to another person
commits an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding fifty thousand shillings, or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three months, or to both.
His lawyer, Mr Edwin Sifuna, tried in vain to have him released on a free bond on the basis that the offence was not serious.
The magistrate ordered that he be released on a Sh100,000 bond with a similar surety or a Sh50,000 cash bail.
The case will be mentioned on the February 2 and hearing will begin on February 12.