Court Frees Cleric Accused of Spreading Covid-19 on Us$1,500 Cash Bail

Court Frees Cleric Accused of Spreading Covid-19 on Us$1,500 Cash Bail
Fr. Richard Oduor who has been freed on cash bail by the magistrate at Kenya’s Milimani Law court. He is accused of “negligently” spreading COVID-19. He has denied the charges
Credit: Public Domain

Fr. Richard Oduor who has been freed on cash bail by the magistrate at Kenya’s Milimani Law Court. He is accused of “negligently” spreading COVID-19. He has denied the charges. The magistrate at Kenya’s Milimani Law Court, Martha Nanzushi has freed Fr. Richard Oduor, accused of “negligently” spreading COVID-19, on a cash bail of KES.150,000.00 (US$1,500.00) and ordered him to go into a 14-day self-quarantine after he pleaded not guilty to the charges, Fr. Richard’s legal representative has told ACI Africa.
The Thursday, April 16 court ruling was based on the charge sheet of Kenya’s National Police Service that reads, “Spreading infection contrary to section 186 as read with section 36 of the Penal Code.” “Richard Onyango Oduor on diverse dates between 12th March 2020 and 20th March 2020 at diverse places within the Republic of Kenya you negligently spread an infectious disease namely Corona Virus 2019 also known as COVID-19,” the charge sheet seen by ACI Africa further reads. “He was ordered to proceed on 14 days self-quarantine as was directed by Kenyatta National Hospital when being discharged,” Francis Wasuna of Wasuna & Company Advocates, the lawyer representing Fr. Richard, told ACI Africa.
Mr. Wasuna added, “The case will be mentioned on 4th May 2020 to fix a hearing date.” Fr. Richard had been arrested April 9 just after he was discharged from Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH), Kenya’s oldest and largest health facility, where had been undergoing COVID-19 treatment since March 22. He was held at Nairobi’s Kileleshwa police station over the Easter holiday and was arraigned in court Tuesday, April 14. The prosecution asked the Magistrate at the Milimani Law Court for more time “to complete investigations,” explaining that investigators were not able to obtain the needed information during the April 10 through April 13 Easter break and that they needed to record statements from some of the people Fr. Richard had interacted with as well as officials from Kenya’s Immigration department.
A diocesan priest of South Sudan’s Torit diocese, Fr. Richard arrived in Nairobi from Rome on March 12. The student of Liturgy at Pontifical University of Saint Anselm in Rome intended to proceed to Juba in South Sudan to witness the installation of the new Archbishop of Juba, Stephen Ameyu. In a previous interview with ACI Africa, Fr. Richard said he had not experienced any of the symptoms associated with COVID-19 throughout the period of his hospitalization. The World Health Organization (WHO) has reported about asymptomatic laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19, referencing people who are infected with the new coronavirus but do not develop symptoms. The United Nations’ agency responsible for international public health has indicated that COVID-19 can be transmitted by asymptomatic carriers. “So far, all people who interacted with Father especially in Siaya County have been tested and are negative,” Mr. Wasuna told ACI Africa April 14, adding, “Father too has been tested twice since the positive result and he is negative.”
During the April 16, the magistrate Martha Nanzushi recommended that Fr. Richard self-quarantines at a Catholic institution. "Fr. Richard has gone to stay at premises of the Franciscan Sisters of St. Joseph in Nairobi’s Adams Arcade," Sr. Dr. Jacinta Ondeng of the School Sisters of Notre Dame (SSND) who was at the April 16 court session told ACI Africa. Fr. Richard, 38, was ordained a priest for South Sudan’s Torit diocese in May 2018 at Holy Family Catholic Parish, Utawala of the Archdiocese of Nairobi by Bishop Paride Taban, the Bishop emeritus of Torit diocese.
By Fr. Don Bosco Onyalla - ACI Africa