A Kenyan man sentenced to death has inspired many by getting a law degree and representing himself in court, earning his freedom.

William Okumu, who spent 10 years at the Kamiti Maximum Prison for robbery with violence and possession of stolen property was set free in May 2019.

Recently speaking to the BBC, Okumu expressed his joy at being freed saying, “there’s no English word that can express how I feel.”

Okumu was among 15 prisoners from Uganda and Kenya who completed his law degree from the University of London in 2018, under African Prisons Project’s (APP) Justice Changemaker Programme.

Representing himself

In 2017, after the Supreme Court declared Section 204 of the Penal Code which stipulated mandatory death sentence as unconstitutional, Okumu saw an opportunity to appeal his sentence.

According to APP, Okumu’s petition was supported by the prosecution as he had ‘performed exceptionally well in custody and had made good use of his time in prison.’

Kibera Chief Magistrate Hon. William Okumu, reduced his sentence to 10 years in jail from the day of his arrest. Having already served 10 years, 7 months in jail, he was immediately set free.

Speaking to APP at the time of his release, an excited Okumu said that he was looking forward to being reunited with his son as he was arrested when he was just 3 days old.

“I look forward to meeting my 10-year-old son. I want to go and surprise him in school. I want to play with him in the mud, hoping that it is raining back home. I want to make up for our lost time,” he said.

Uplifting others

Okumu also expressed his desire to represent inmates who are victims of wrongful convictions because of a lack of basic knowledge of the law.

“For me, there is no greater motivation than serving others and uplifting the weak and marginalized among us.”

“I have realised that my dreams are bigger than my fears.”

Source : SDE & APP

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ZIMENE MUMAKONDA

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