Policeman serving 17 years for Rio Olympics scam seeks bail


Jailed Police Officer Stephen Arap Soi. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NMG

The head of the Kenyan delegation to the Rio Olympics in 2016 Stephen Arap Soi, who is serving 17 years in jail for abuse of office, has pleaded to be freed on bail, pending the determination of his appeal.

Appearing before High Court judge Esther Maina on Monday, Mr Soi said he suffers from chronic diseases and requires constant medical attention and checkup from his personal doctor.

Mr Soi was found guilty together with former Sports CS Hassan Wario and sentenced to 17 years in jail after he failed to pay a fine of Sh105.6 million. Dr Wario had been sentenced to six years with an option of paying a fine of Sh3.6 million, which he paid and got back his freedom.

In the appeal to be heard next month, Mr Soi says he is an elderly man at 65 years and his health might deteriorate while in prison, yet his appeal has high chances of success.

“The applicant is apprehensive that his health will be greatly affected if this application is not heard urgently as he will not be able to get the required medical care and attention while in custody. He is required to adhere to a strict diet and to take medication and have checkups on strict occasions,” his lawyer Kimutai Bosek said.

Mr Soi said he was convicted of six counts, crimes he allegedly committed in Nairobi but he says he was in Rio, Brazil at the time.

The former police officer said he is the sole breadwinner and keeping him in custody will leave his family destitute.

He was out on bond during the hearing and says he attended court without fail. According to Mr Soi, his role within the National Olympic Committee of Kenya (NOC-K) had nothing to do with his former duties as a police officer.

He says Chief Magistrate Elizabeth Juma convicted him on misinterpretation of the law that he was discharging his duties as a police officer yet he was on an assignment given to him by Noc-K, an affiliate of the International Olympic Committee, whose role and functions have nothing to do with the discharge of public duties in Kenya.

“The Police Act does not envisage a situation wherein police officers are placed under insubordination of civilians and the applicant’s role in Noc-K was that of a private citizen and had nothing to do with his role as a police officer,” he said.

Mr Soi further says he was discriminated 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.

He says he was condemned on a finding that he conferred a benefit to his superiors including Noc-k chairman Kipchoge Keino and secretary-general Paul Kinyili, yet there was no evidence to prove such.

He says if indeed he conferred a benefit on Mr Kinyili, why did the court acquit him.

Further, Mr Soi says he was condemned for the cancelation of tickets for no show at the airport yet a majority of the people who didn’t turn up were senior government officials in the Ministry of Sports.

Other than authorising the cancellation of air tickets resulting in a loss of Sh9.7 million public funds, Mr Soi was accused of overpaying allowances to officials, athletes and the media team that traveled to Rio.

The case will be heard on December 16.

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