A Kenyan court orders a German athlete to pay a Ksh70,000 ($601) fine or spend six months in prison for cyber harassment in Iten, Elgeyo Marakwet County.
The harassment in form of text and social media messages sent to a Kenyan female athlete, who also trains in Iten, was meant to cause anxiety that something bad might happen to her.
Weiss Marvin Valentin, 25, was charged with four counts of sending disturbing messages to the athlete, whom he wanted to be romantically involved with, but his advances were turned down.
“The accused, once in the camp, became interested in a romantic affair with the mentioned athlete who declined the advances. He persistently but unsuccessfully tried luring her though he was warned of his unbecoming behaviour by other athletes and even the coach,” read the report presented by the prosecution.
Mr Valentin pleaded guilty to the four counts before Iten Senior Resident Magistrate Caroline Ateya.
The court ruled that he should leave the country within 72 hours of paying the fine or completing the prison term, failure to which he would be deported.
The German national was charged with three counts of sending disturbing messages and a fourth count of malicious information to Regina Nguria.
The court heard that on April 20, 2022 at an unknown place within Kenya, he sent an SMS to Ms Nguria, which reads: “You are (sic) having my blood in your hands. Tomorrow I will go to heaven and you will go to hell…” The prosecution said the message caused anxiety to Ms Nguria.
A week later, he commented on a photo Ms Nguria was tagged on Instagram saying: “It was the plan from both of you to break my spirit by trapping me (sic) coming back to Kenya. Soon, the woman on the left will burn in hell…”
On the same day, the accused commented on a photo on the same social media platform saying: “Hopefully Regina is dead in a few days.”
In his mitigation, the accused told the court: “I am sorry for the messages. Send me back home for medication because I am sick.”
His coach, Elkana Ruto, told Nation Sport that the athlete is an introvert who rarely communicates with the rest of the group (Cloudnine Athletics Camp), but that he had warned him several times of his unbecoming behaviour.
“I have received several complaints from ladies who accused him of being a nuisance with his sexual advances. We reported the matter to police when we saw the issue was getting out of hand,” Mr Ruto said.