, NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 26 – The hearing of a multi-million shilling fraud case against suspended Cabinet Minister William Ruto and three other co-accused has been scheduled for January next year.
The case will be heard for 12 days spread across January 24 to February 4.
The directive was issued by Nairobi Chief Magistrate Gilbert Mutembei after an initial hitch earlier on Tuesday due to a mix-up in the case file.
Defence lawyers led by Katwa Kigen told the magistrate they would have wished to have the case start earlier, before the dates were agreed upon by both the prosecution and the court.
“Your honour, we prefer to get earlier dates but if it is not possible we are in agreement with the dates that are available,” Mr Kigen contended.
The prosecution said it has lined up 24 witnesses to testify in the case in which Mr Ruto is charged alongside former President Daniel arap Moi’s personal assistant Joshua Kulei and Baringo Central MP Sammy Mwaita.
Earlier, the case failed to take off due to a mix up in locating the file. Once the file was located, it did not contain the order by the Constitutional court directing that Mr Ruto face trial, prompting a second adjournment.
Mr Mutembei had said the case could not proceed until the High Court order was located, prompting an adjournment to 2.30 pm when it was brought before him.
“I now have the High Court order before me. Can we now set the dates for their case,” Mr Mutembei said.
Mr Ruto was charged at the Magistrate’s court in 2004 with defrauding the Kenya Pipeline Company [KPC] of Sh96 million over the sale of a parcel of land illegally hived off Ngong Forest.
Court documents indicate that Mr Ruto had received some Sh9.9 million in the first installment a further Sh57.8 million and Sh28 million, claiming he was in a position to sell the land to the KPC. The land belongs to the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources.
Mr Ruto later filed a constitutional reference at the High Court, arguing that proceeding with the case amounted to a violation of his rights.
The application was dismissed two weeks ago by the High Court which ordered that the case proceeds at the Magistrate’s court.
Mr Ruto was consequently suspended from the Cabinet pending determination of the criminal case.