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Judiciary blocking justice, says KACC

NAIROBI, November 10 – The Kenya Anti Corruption Commission (KACC) has once again accused the judiciary of frustrating its efforts in the fight against corruption.

KACC Director Aaron Ringera said on Monday that the slow pace of determining corruption cases owing to the low capacity of the courts had hindered their work. Justice Ringera also accused the courts of issuing rulings that have stalled some of its investigations.

“The decisions emanating from some of the courts have questioned the commission’s powers in the exercise of its investigatory mandate and stopped the commission in its tracks from continuing investigations into mega scandals like the Anglo-leasing contracts,” he said and asked for enhanced capacity in the courts for quick prosecution.

The KACC chief executive officer also faulted the courts for barring them from seeking assistance from other sovereign states in their efforts to recover assets and cash stashed outside the country.

“Decisions have been rendered in our courts that we cannot seek legal assistance from foreign governments and agencies. This complicates all cases with an international dimension,” he said.

The former appellate judge called on Parliament “to undertake a major overhaul of the anti-corruption laws and anchor the commission in the constitution” to deal with the reservations expressed by the judiciary on the existing laws.

Justice Ringera also demanded for prosecutorial powers, owing to the longevity of the courts process in the country and the contradicting rulings.

“We would want specific powers of investigation, powers to verify the declaration of wealth, powers to recover assets that have been corruptly acquired and powers to take the measures to prevent corruption,” he said.

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The KACC was created in 2003 under the Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Act, as the main agency with a statutory mandate to fight corruption in Kenya.  It‘s mandate however only allows it to forward files to the Attorney General’s office for prosecution.

The Commission has been under the spotlight for failing to fight top level graft that has persisted in the country for years. Prime Minister Raila Odinga and Justice Minister Martha Karua early in the year admitted that the government had failed in the fight but put the blame in the court system for dragging cases.

Justice Ringera who spoke as he launched this year’s annual report said out of the 500 files investigated, a total of 111 had been forwarded to the AG’s office for action. He confirmed that the State Law Office had agreed that 70 of the cases be prosecuted, 21 others were however closed owing to insufficient evidence while four were recommended for administrative action.

In the year 2007/2008 the KACC recovered assets worth Sh3.7 billion which included the controversial Grand Regency hotel. Others are 12 city council offices in Woodley estate and 14 parcels of land hived off Karura forest. It also commenced investigations into alleged pending bills worth Sh80 billion for services rendered to the government.  Other inquiries include alleged misuse of Constituency Development Funds, the Fuel Levy Fund and the Local Authority Transfer Fund.

The KACC also investigated corruption claims at various state corporations including the Kenya Pipeline Company, Kenya Sugar Board and Kenya Reinsurance Corporation.  Others are the Mombasa Old Port, Miwani Sugar Company and the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority. Some top managers of the above firms make the list of 111 files forwarded to the AG for prosecution.

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