Lawyers have called for a review of the evidence prosecutors say is insufficient to secure a conviction as they gave Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Noordin Haji three days to disclose reasons for his withdrawal of corruption cases involving President William Ruto’s allies.
Questioning the motive of the withdrawals, the Law Society of Kenya (LSK) yesterday said it would institute private prosecutions of the individuals should Mr Haji fail to provide concrete reasons for letting them off the hook.
“The DPP must give an explanation, failure to which we will review evidence in the cases and proceed with private prosecution. The DPP ought to resubmit the investigating files and seal the gaps but not withdraw cases,” it said in a statement.
LSK said it would take legal action if it does not get a response from Mr Haji “so as to avert the abuse of the prosecutorial powers donated to him by Kenyans through the Constitution”.
The society suggested that the withdrawal of the high-profile cases could be a result of the bad blood between the DPP and former Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) boss George Kinoti.
“The LSK is aware of the frosty relationship between the two offices and the sustained efforts by the DCI to prosecute cases without the consent of the DPP,” LSK President Eric Theuri said.
Addressing journalists in Nairobi, Mr Theuri said Mr Haji must have been ordered by the previous regime to institute criminal charges against Dr Ruto’s allies or is being directed by the new administration to drop the cases.
He added that Kenyans’ trust and confidence in Mr Haji would be eroded should he fail to disclose the reasons for withdrawing the cases against former Kenya Power bosses Ben Chumo and Ken Tarus, Cabinet secretary nominees Aisha Jumwa and Mithika Linturi and former Samburu governor Moses Lenolkulal.
Mr Theuri said LSK wants to be told why the DPP made the decision to charge the individuals in the first place.
“If the cases are being withdrawn for lack of evidence, then the DPP must take responsibility and explain how the decision to charge was arrived at,” he said.
The LSK president added that some of the people whose charges have been dropped “were arrested in somewhat dramatic circumstances with media press releases”.
The discontinuation of charges has been done silently without press releases, he said.
“We are alarmed by the recent decisions by the DPP as they point to two disturbing scenarios; that the prosecutions were mounted for ulterior purposes whose end has been achieved or overtaken by events, or that the DPP has withdrawn the cases to aid an ulterior motive. The DPP owes the country an explanation,” Mr Theuri added.
He challenged the courts handling corruption cases to insist on prosecutors providing reasons for withdrawing them.
“We call on the Judiciary, especially the magistrates handling the cases, to insist on the DPP providing credible and cogent reasons before allowing the discontinuation of the charges. This is to assert the independence of the Judiciary and prevent the courts from being used as an arena for settling scores and abuse of judicial time and resources,” the LSK president said.
Mr Theuri was accompanied by LSK Vice Chairman Faith Odhiambo and the LSK Council members.
They said the spate of withdrawal of criminal cases portends great danger to the rule of law and administration of justice.
“Before any prosecution commences, the DPP reviews the file under the decision to charge guidelines and only gives approval if investigations reveal a probable case against the suspect,” they said. By Joseph Wangui, Daily Nation