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Kenyan man accused of secretly marrying woman in US behind the back of Kenyan wife set free

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A Kenyan man who was charged for marrying a woman in Jersey City while remaining legally wed to another wife in Kenya was declared not guilty and released by the courts.=

A woman in Jersey City accused Mr. Douglas Ndenga Akhonya of lying about being single. In July 2015, they really went ahead and were hitched.

The prosecution team failed to offer a Kenyan marriage expert to determine if Mr. Akhonya had actually wed a woman in his home country, the Royal Court said, thus the case against him should be withdrawn.

He was charged with bigamy, which is the crime of marrying someone while you are already married to someone else, and with willfully giving false information in order to consummate an intended marriage.

Mr. Akhonya said he was unmarried when he wed a woman in Jersey in July 2015. However, a Kenyan woman came forward and claimed that he had already married her in March 2008 and that they were still together when he got married on the island. A document verifying the marriage was prepared by a public servant from a Kenyan marriage registry.

The public servant, however, was not a qualified attorney, and certain marriages in Kenya are polygamous and permit a man to have more than one wife.

In any case, according to Mr. Akhonya, he had not engaged into a “customary law union” with the woman in Kenya, which is a legal arrangement that would guarantee he would have access to their son.

Commissioner Sir William Bailhache stated in his written decision that expert testimony will be required for the Crown to demonstrate its case that the marriage was a monogamous first union.

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Because there wouldn’t be any evidence that was suitable to provide to the jury regarding that crucial requirement for proving guilt, there would be no case to answer if it weren’t for that.

The prosecution requested more time to interview a Kenyan legal expert for testimony.

However, Sir William asserted that the evidence sought to be included “should have been gathered far earlier” and “was always a required part of the prosecution case.”

“Formal verdicts of not guilty are entered on the indictment,” he said in his conclusion.

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