, NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 14 – The tribunal formed to probe Supreme Court Justice Philip Tunoi is likely to begin its sittings in the first week of April according to Chairman Sharad Rao.
Despite not having as yet received the petition that led to Tunoi’s suspension by President Uhuru Kenyatta, Rao was optimistic on Monday that they would not have to wait too much longer.
“We’ve just agreed with the Chief Justice that we will write to him formally and by tomorrow I think we should be able to get those,” he said.
Once they receive the petition, Rao said, they would serve it to Tunoi with urgency in the interest according him the earliest possible opportunity to clear his name.
“As far as I am concerned he is innocent until found to be guilty. And we have got to treat him as such, with all the dignity and respect that he deserves as a judge of the Supreme Court.”
The Judicial Service Commission Act requires the tribunal to serve Tunoi with the allegations made against him 14 days before a hearing date.
“The counsel assisting the tribunal shall draw up a list of the allegations against each subject of the investigation, together with a summary of the evidence in support of the allegations and shall serve the document containing the allegations and the summary of the evidence on the Judge who is the subject of the investigation, at least fourteen days before the date of hearing,” the Act states.
The tribunal will hold a meeting on Tuesday afternoon following the swearing-in of the final tribunal member, Jonathan Havelock.
Havelock was sworn-in alongside Reuben Kipkemoi Chirchir and Morris Kaburu who will act as joint secretaries to the tribunal.
Paul Nyamodi takes on the role of Lead Assisting Counsel and David Githada Wachira that of Assisting Counsel.
Havelock’s swearing in put to bed rumours that he had turned down the appointment to the tribunal on account of a Sh8 million debt owed to him by government.
The Sh8 million in retirement benefits he is owed for the last 19 months, he said, was a matter for his lawyers to take up with the Judicial Service Commission and Treasury. “It has nothing to do with this.”
“I’ve been in Tanzania for the last 10 days and the roads in the parks there are far worse than Kenya. And one thing you’ve got to be careful (about) in Tanzania is don’t get bitten tsetse. Would you like to see my wounds?” he offered up as proof. “Honestly, I wasn’t here so I don’t really know what these rumours are about but I’m happy to serve. It’s not a problem.”
The tribunal is charged with ascertaining if there is truth to the allegation that Tunoi took a Sh200 million bribe from Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero.