The wife of a Britain-based preacher who claims to perform miracles on barren women was released on bail in Kenya today after being charged with stealing children.
Prosecutors said DNA tests of nine children picked up at the couple’s home in Kenya showed only one of them was linked to Mary Juma Deya, wife of self-proclaimed archbishop Gilbert Deya.
Four other suspects in what Kenyan police allege is a child-trafficking ring that spans five countries were also released on the same bond.
All five suspects have pleaded not guilty and claim that their children were the result of miracles performed by Gilbert Deya, who runs a large church in Peckham, south-east London with branches in Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham and Nottingham.
The pastor, who claims his prayers can help infertile women have babies, has also been named as a suspect in the investigation, but Kenya has not asked for his extradition from Britain.
Police have taken 21 children into custody and more than a dozen couples have already contacted the police to claim the children as their own.
Prosecutors have charged Mary Juma Deya another Kenyan woman, Rose Kiserem and Miriam Nyekoa, a Uganda-born woman who holds a British passport with stealing a baby girl from Nairobi’s Pumwani Maternity Hospital in February.
A Kenyan couple, Michael and Eddha Odera, were charged with stealing a boy under the age of 14 in January 2000, from a farm 87 miles from the capital, Nairobi.
The couple claims the pastor’s blessing helped them have 13 children and police have begun DNA tests to determine if they are all related.
Prosecutor Moses Odoyo told the Nairobi court the investigation into alleged child-trafficking involves suspects in Britain, Ghana, Nigeria and Uganda, as well as Kenya.
Chief Magistrate Aggrey Muchelule said that he was compelled to grant the suspects bail because Kenyan police had violated the suspects’ rights.
“When police, without any explanation, detain without charging a person for longer than what the constitution provides, they will find it extremely difficult to persuade the court to deny such a person bail,” Muchelule said. ”Liberty of a citizen is a serious matter.”
Muchelule said the trial would begin on November 3.