Kiplagat temporarily blocks tribal probe

April 27, 2011 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 27 – The Tribunal investigating the suitability of Bethuel Kiplagat as chairman of the Truth Justice and Reconciliation, has been blocked from carrying out its duties until a case he has filed challenging its mandate is heard and determined.

High Court Judge Aggrey Muchelule on Wednesday ruled that issues raised by Mr Kiplagat were critical and the court need to scrutinise his application.

The judge observed that the question of jurisdiction raised by Mr Kiplagat against the tribunal and the Attorney General posed serious issues of vetting.

"If the tribunal is allowed to investigate the applicant regarding his past conduct on the basis of its findings and recommends his removal, he will be prejudiced beyond repair should the court find it had no powers to do so,\’\’ the judge ruled.

"Precious time and resources will have been spent on a futile exercise.  At this stage nothing should be said that may prejudice any party or embarrass the court that will deal with the matter.\’\’

Through lawyer Kevin McCourt, the former chairman opposed the tribunal arguing it lacked jurisdiction adding that he has not been linked to any human rights violations.

Mr Kiplagat further averred that section 10 of the TJRC Act barred the tribunal from investigating him because he was vetted and interviewed and his name was forwarded to Parliament for approval.

But the tribunal\’s assisting counsel Edwin Okello opposed the application arguing that the three-member tribunal has powers to investigate his conduct.

Under section 17(2), Mr Kiplagat contends that a tribunal can only be formed to investigate the question of his removal from office under section 17 (1) in relation to his conduct while in office.

The tribunal formed last December by former Chief Justice Evan Gicheru wants to investigate the circumstances surrounding the death of former Foreign Affairs Minister Dr Robert Ouko, the Wagalla massacre and the Ndung\’u Lands Report on illegal allocation of public land where Mr Kiplagat is adversely mentioned.

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