Saudi Authorities Postpone May 15 Execution of Stephen Munyakho

May 14, 2024

Saudi Arabia has accepted Kenya’s request to postpone Stephen Munyakho’s execution, originally scheduled for Wednesday, to allow for further negotiations among all parties involved.

Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Korir Sing’Oei announced on Monday that authorities in Saudi Arabia had agreed to postpone the impending execution of Munyakho, now known as Abdulkareem.

Sing’Oei expressed gratitude for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s cooperation and emphasized Kenya’s commitment to finding a satisfactory resolution to the matter. He highlighted the importance of leveraging the strong partnership between Kenya and Saudi Arabia and the support of all Kenyans during this process.

The government plans to engage stakeholders in Nairobi and Riyadh in the coming days to determine the most effective way forward. These discussions will involve input from religious leaders to chart the next steps urgently.

Munyakho, 37, faced a death sentence after being involved in a fatal altercation with a colleague in Saudi Arabia in April 2011. Despite initially receiving a five-year prison sentence for manslaughter, a subsequent appeal resulted in a harsher verdict of death by sword.

In accordance with Islamic law, an alternative to the death penalty is the payment of “diya” or “blood money” as compensation to the victim’s family.

In Munyakho’s case, the victim’s family initially demanded 10 million Saudi Riyals, but later reduced to 3.5 million SAR (approximately Kes.150 million).

Last week, Munyakho’s family appealed to Kenyans and other well-wishers for assistance in raising the required funds. A committee formed for the ‘Bring Back Stevo’ initiative also urged President William Ruto to intervene on Munyakho’s behalf.

Sing’Oei, while commending Kenyans for their support in raising the amount, expressed confidence in diplomatic channels to resolve the situation. He conveyed the government’s deep concern for Munyakho’s plight and assured his family of ongoing efforts to negotiate a resolution that would spare him from execution.

“This is a case that has been in the books for a couple of years. This young man (Munyakho) inadvertently occasioned the death of another. The circumstances that this gentleman is in are dire,” Sing’Oei remarked.

He remained optimistic that Saudi courts would review the sentencing, which he described as “egregious.”

“Our hope really is within the next couple of weeks we will be able to know the direction, most likely there will be an opportunity to go back to court for a review off this particular penalty because if you look at it, it’s egregious, it’s almost unattainable it’s almost as if you have no option but to go through the death penalty,” he said.

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