Kiplagat does not want his past probed

March 21, 2011 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 21 – Bethuel Kiplagat now wants the tribunal that was set up to investigate him blocked from digging into his past character.

In an application he filed before the tribunal on Monday, Mr Kiplagat argued that the tribunal had no jurisdiction to probe his past, since the Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission Act under which he was appointed provided for thorough scrutiny to gauge his suitability as TJRC chairman.

"Before the appointment, the applicant had been subjected to extensive, comprehensive, consultative and rigorous vetting procedures and other safeguards as to personal character and integrity in compliance with provision of the TJRC Act," said Mr Kiplagat in his objection.

He said the tribunal can only investigate his conduct while in office as the Act had sufficient safeguards to ensure only those who met the required threshold were appointed.

"The Act only envisions the removal of a chairman or commissioner on account of (mis)conduct engaged in after the date of appointment," adds his objection.

He argued that the allegations levelled against him relate to misconduct he allegedly engaged in prior to his appointment.  He adds that his suitability as chair should not be the subject of debate since he was vetted and approved by interviewing and vetting authorities including the National Assembly.

"In view of these factors, the suitability of the applicant to hold office was conclusively, finally and irrevocably determined by these authorities," he says.

Assisting Counsel Edwin Okello said:  "The mandate of this tribunal is very clear that we are to investigate his past conduct that makes him unsuitable to hold office.  His conduct is what this tribunal is all about."

The tribunal was formed last year to investigate the allegations that Mr Kiplagat\’s past conduct erodes and compromises his legitimacy and credibility to chair the Commission.

Civil society organisations disputed his suitability as chairman on the basis that he was in government during the KANU regime when most atrocities – which the Commission is mandated to investigate – were committed.

Mr Okello said the tribunal had recorded over 10 witness statements of persons objecting to Mr Kiplagat\’s chairmanship.

The tribunal will rule on the application on April 4, to determine if the proceedings will go on.

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