Suspects in Miwani Land Fraud case to be put on their defence

In Summary

• Elkindy was charged with abuse of office, but she said her signature was forged to facilitate the alleged transfer.

• One of the accused, John Gitau, died before the ruling was made. 

Some of the suspects in the Sh 2.3 billion Miwani Land Fraud case.
Some of the suspects in the Sh 2.3 billion Miwani Land Fraud case.
Image: FAITH MATETE

It's a blow to all suspects in the Sh2.3 billion Miwani Land Fraud case, including those acquitted, as a Nairobi court ruled that they be put on their defence. 

This is following a successful appeal by the DPP over the acquittal of the suspects. 

Sukhwinder Chatte, Ian Maina, Philip Odongo, Epanaito Okoyo and Crossley Holdings Limited were acquitted for lack of evidence. The DPP appealed their acquittal.

Their co-accused Adulakadir Elkindy, a former magistrate, and Moses Osewe, were found to have conspired to defraud the state firm of 9,394 acres between May 21, 2007, and January 30, 2008.

Elkindy was charged with abuse of office, but she said her signature was forged to facilitate the alleged transfer. Osewe is said to have failed to collect land rates. 

One of the accused, John Gitau, died before the ruling was made. 

While setting aside orders of the trial magistrate court Julius Ngar Ngar, that put two suspects on trial and acquitted seven others, the court ruled that the evidence on record was sufficient to require placing all the accused on their defense .

The Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Division of the High Court Justice Mumbi Ngugi  ruled on Wednesday that  evidence against all the nine accused was sufficient hence they should offer an explanation on their defense. 

"I find and hold that all accused person before the chief magistrate including the five respondents before this court should have been placed on their defense and l so direct,” he stated. 

In the case,  the prosecution had prayed that the court should direct that the defence case should be placed for hearing before any other magistrate other than the trial magistrate in the case. 

However, the judge, Ngugi  noted that he could not grant the prayers,  hence the case will be heard before Ngar'ngar.

Earlier while appealing the matter the Directorate of Public Prosecutions faulted the acquittal. 

Assistant DPP Frederick Ashimosi in July told the court that  he had sufficient evidence against the five.

He noted they had proof that the value of the grabbed property was Sh2.3 billion and took issue with Ngar'ngar's assertion that the investigation was shoddy.

"We will also prove that the land in question belongs to Miwani Sugar Company and not as earlier ruled,” he told Justice Ngugi while submitting the appeal.

The accused are said to have conspired to defraud the state through forgery, fraudulent disposal of public property and fraudulent acquisition of public property.

Ashimosi said parts of the ruling were contradictory. “The magistrate ruled that Osewe and former magistrate Elkindy had a case to answer on charges of abuse of office, yet he established that there was no proof of a conspiracy against Chatte and Crossley Holdings, to whom the property was transferred,” he said.

He said evidence at their disposal showed that Maina, Kimani, Odongo and Okoyo aided the irregular transfer by forging documents.