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December 11, 2018

Local lawyers fear handling DCJ Mwilu graft case, says DPP

Attorney General Paul Kihara with senators in Parliament yesterday /JACK OWUOR
Attorney General Paul Kihara with senators in Parliament yesterday /JACK OWUOR

Queen’s Counsel Khawar Qureshi was hired to specifically lead the prosecution of deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu’s corruption case, DPP Noordin Haji said yesterday.

Qureshi will be assisted by three local lawyers. Haji yesterday told senators that Mwilu’s case is high-profile and of great public interest. Mwilu has been charged with abuse of office. She is accused of fraudulently receiving Sh12 million from the collapsed Imperial Bank.

“All senior counsels were not comfortable with handling the case. It is sensitive and I thought it needed an independent prosecutor,” Haji said.

He was responding to questions from the Legal, Justice and Human Rights committee chaired by Nandi senator Samson Cherargei.

Read: Mwilu case malicious, criminal plot to remove her from office - lawyers

The DPP was accompanied by Attorney General Paul Kariuki, director of Assets Recovery Agency Kimani Muthoni, DCI George Kinoti and top officials from the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission.

Haji’s said he has faith in local lawyers after Nakuru senator Susan Kihika asked why he did not pick one to prosecute the case. Lawyers have also opposed the move to higher Qureshi.

“On this particular one, we agreed that we needed a special counsel. I had assigned the most senior to handle the matter but there were accusations,” Haji said. 

Haji said 18 local lawyers applied to be private legal counsels but only three were picked. The three are Philip Murgor, Ali Taib and James Kihara.

In October, High Court judge Chacha Mwita referred Mwilu’s case to Chief Justice David Maraga asking him to empanel a bench of an uneven number of judges to hear and determine the matter.

Read: Mwilu’s case referred to CJ

Mwita said the petition raises substantial questions and due to its public importance, it is only fair it be heard by a bench.

The application for empanelment was filed in court on September 7 by the Office of the DPP.

Haji wants the bench to determine whether it can commence criminal proceedings against a sitting judge without violating the Constitution.

The DPP also wants the court to determine whether he can institute criminal proceedings where the Judicial Service Commission has taken no action against a sitting judge despite knowledge and information about the criminal conduct of the said judge. 

Haji said Kenya Pipeline Company officials and those from NHIF accused of abuse of office will be arrested anytime this week. He said investigations are almost complete.

“We are progressing well with investigations. We’re going to prosecute NHIF and KPC soon,” Haji said. The DCI has been investigating an alleged Sh1.8 billion Kisumu oil jetty scandal at KPC for sometime now.

More: Judiciary plots fight back on Mwilu case

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