Kenyan judge pulls out of case over threats

June 2, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 2 – A High Court judge has disqualified herself from hearing an election petition citing threats she received through text messages.
Lady Justice Kalpana Rawal said that she had been receiving threatening, offensive and untrue SMS since May 30.
 She however declined to disclose the contents of the offending SMS, saying that the messages had “hurt me deeply” and could therefore not proceed with the hearing of the election petition.
The Judge has now directed the police to investigate the matter conclusively.

Justice Rawal has also ordered that the file be placed before Chief Justice Evan Gicheru to appoint another judge to preside over the case against sitting MP Simon Mbugua that has been filed by Ahmed Ibrahim.
"It is a sad day for the Judiciary that a person with vested interest can go to this extent by trying to threaten a judicial officer in this manner," she said in her ruling.
Justice Rawal said she found it improper to continue hearing the petition while threats had been issued against her, saying that her conscience was “absolutely clear and above imputation.”

“It’s appropriate for both parties to be heard by another judge whom shall be appointed by the CJ.”

Last month, the court allowed the case against Mr Mbugua to proceed after it dismissed an application by seeking to stop the proceedings.

Justice Rawal ruled that Mr Ibrahim was not required to indicate parliamentary results for all the candidates who vied for the Kamukunji parliamentary seat in the last general election in his petition.

The judge observed that since the Returning Officer did not release what the other candidates garnered “it would be unreasonable to require the petitioner to put in his papers what the electoral commission did not disclose.\’\’

Through lawyer Kibe Mungai, Mr Mbugua had argued that the petitioner had no grounds to challenge his election having not disclosed in his petition what every candidate garnered.

In April, Justice Rawal allowed verification of all election documents that were used in the 2007 Kamukunji parliamentary election.

She had directed that all ballot boxes be opened and election materials therein verified and confirmed although no scrutiny of ballot papers would be done.

Mr Ibrahim wanted the court to confirm whether all election documents were put inside ballot boxes and forwarded to the Returning Officer.

The petitioner alleges that crucial documents among them forms 16A and 17A were not preserved after the elections.


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