MURDER TRIAL

Kick out DPP for snail's pace, gross misconduct — Cohens

Haji calls petition malicious, attempt to coerce him to make decisions based on certain people's perceptions of the law

In Summary

• “ My prayer is the averments of his qualifications be placed under scrutiny to verify his competence as a holder of the Office,” court documents read.

• DPP has developed cold feet in prosecuting high-profile cases moves with snail-speed in commencing prosecution of criminals, family says.

 

DPP Noordin Haji at a past event.
THE DPP: DPP Noordin Haji at a past event.
Image: FILE

The family of murdered tycoon Tob Cohen wants Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji removed from office for gross misconduct and abuse of office. 

It accuses him of moving at a 'snail's pace' and mishandling the murder case in which widow Sarah Cohen is charged. 

Through Tob Cohen's sister Gabriel Van Straten, the family has petitioned the Public Service Commission to kick out Haji barely four years after he took over.

Through lawyers Danstan Omari and Cliff Ombeta, Straten has accused the DPP of bungling the case of her brother's murder.

The widow, Sarah Wairimu Cohen, has been charged with murder but denies the charge. The trial has not started. Cohen was missing for two months in 2019 before the body was found in September in an empty water tank at the family home. 

To support her case, Straten cited other cases she claims the DPP has mishandled, including the Kemsa scandal over procurement of Covid-19 supplies.

Haji on Wednesday dismissed the petition and said he has done nothing wrong.

 “The petition is malicious and designed to coerce me to make decisions based on certain individuals’ perception of the law and justice. 

"I’m ready to face the Public Service Commission and will give my detailed response to them,” Haji said.

In her petition, Straten alleged the DPP has been interfering with criminal investigations by the DCI, especially in the Cohen murder case.

“Such a directive from the DPP does not serve the best interest of justice for the victims of the late Tob Cohen. [Nor does it serve] the greater public good and more so [it is] an invasion of the freedom and independence of the office of the DCI who is lawfully empowered to detect crime, investigate it and bring the perpetrators to face the consequences of their actions,” she said.

She argues that because of the actions of the DPP interfering with criminal investigations by the Director of Criminal Investigations [George Kinoti] unrest and uncertainty are taking center stage during the conduct of investigations.

She further claims that Justice Sankale Ole Kantai was apparently overheard bragging about the DPP’s inaction of not approving the charges. He has since been exonerated by the DPP.

“As such, it is now becoming a norm amongst highly connected suspects [that they] tend to boast that criminal accusations against them will never see the light of day as the Director of Public Prosecutions is undoubtedly a deeply compromised public officer,” the petition reads.

The petition says the DPP has developed cold feet in prosecuting high-profile cases and sometimes moves at a snail's pace in commencing prosecution of criminals.

“That moreover, the cold feet developed by the DPP in the prosecution of high-profile matters and sometimes the snail-speed by the DPP in commencing prosecution of criminals, especially of economic crimes, is telling of the DPP’s bias and sometimes incompetence in comprehending the facts and the law,” the petition reads.

She has also faulted the DPP for refusing to prosecute persons involved in the Kemsa scandal.

Straten further argues that it is baffling that the DPP has refused to order or direct the prosecution of well-known persons who stole millions in monies intended to help fight the Covid-19 pandemic.

This refusal, she says, is despite the overwhelming evidence revealed by the relevant Parliamentary Commission and the EACC.

“By the DPP’s inaction to bring [to justice] the perpetrators of the said economic crimes, he has insubordinated the President’s desire and spirit to combat looters of public funds,” she said

Straten also claimed the DPP, despite having 19 years' experience as a lawyer in areas of practice after he took office, has never set foot in any known courts of law, whether in the subordinate courts or the Superior Courts.

"The DPP lacks all requisite experience as provided for under Article 157 (3) Constitution of Kenya, 2010,” she argues.

The petition further states that the actions and directives of the DPP in the matter of the murdered Tob Cohen have raised a reasonable doubt and Straten is in a position to question the merit and qualifications of the DPP.

“My prayer is that the averments of his qualifications be placed under scrutiny to verify his competence as a holder of the said office,” court documents read.

The petition further argues Haji has demonstrated a lack of objectivity and impartiality in his decision-making by disregarding evidence. 

It says his directives are influenced by nepotism, favouritism, other improper motives or corrupt practices contrary to Article 73(2) of the Constitution.

Straten has also taken issue with the DPP's decision to ask foreign investigating agencies to probe Cohen's murder when he agreed to charge Sarah Wairimu and Peter Karanja who were investigated by the DCI.

She says it will be in the public interest for the PSC to allow her petition and start the process of removing Haji from office.

 

(Edited by V. Graham)