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Hiccups as TJRC seeks to unearth Wagalla truth

NAIROBI, Kenya, May 17 – The Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) on Tuesday deferred a public hearing for the 13 persons who were said to have been in a security meeting a day before the 1984 Wagalla massacre occurred in Wajir.

The ruling came after a lawyer representing the thirteen – who are part 29 persons summoned to appear before the Commission – appeared in a bid to testify on behalf of his clients of which the Commissioners said it was not the way the TJRC process.

‘’TJRC offers an equal opportunity to both witnesses; the complainants and those mentioned. The Commission at this stage is only interested in those named and those invited or summoned as individuals, but not those representing them as lawyers’’, said Prof Ronald Slye , a TJRC Commissioner and the presiding chair for the hearings at Nairobi’s Kenyatta International Conference Centre (KICC).

It was then that advocate Kioko Kilukumi on behalf of his 13 clients of the Kenya Intelligence Committee requested the Commission to extend time of the hearing for his clients citing short notice of the summonses.

Among those represented by Mr Kilukumi were David Mwiraria, General (Rtd) Joseph Kibwana, Joseph Kaguthi, Bethuel Kiplagat, J.P Mwangovya, Benson Wetangula and A.J Njue.

Others are Major Philip Chebet, D.K Mativo, Benson Kaaria, Joseph Ole Seriani and LT. Muriungi

Mr Kilukumi informed the Commission that some of his clients had written to the Office of the President requesting for documents that would help in the hearings but have not received any feedback yet. He also asked that the Commission reimburses money spent to facilitate his clients to appear at the hearing as most of them had retired from Public Service and were currently living away from Nairobi.

The lawyer also informed the Commission that two of his clients namely David Mwiraria and Joseph Kaguthi were unable to attend the hearings based on medical grounds. Commissioner Ronald Slye asked that the two present medical documents certified by professionals on the same within seven days. 

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Following his request, the Commissioners after consultations came back with a ruling in their favour.

"We have decided to grant you a two- week deferral up to June 2, but this does not mean you wait until then if you are able to provide the Commission with any available documents you obtain,” said Prof Slye.

He added that the Commission needed to receive all the documents from the lawyer seven days prior to the hearings.

"While we have granted you a two-week deferral, in essence it’s only seven days as the Commission needs all the documents in good time so as to go through them before the actual hearings scheduled for June 2 start.

Among the people who were supposed to appear on Tuesday it’s only Godfrey Gitai Kariuki commonly referred to as G.G Kariuki who testified in connection to the Garissa Bulla Kartasi massacre. He was Minister of State for Internal Security at the time of the Wagalla massacre  and in  his testimony said  he could not recall any such events as described by witnesses or victims.

"I never received any reports about the said Massacre and this is the first time I am even hearing the names like Bulla Kartasi from you," said Mr Kariuki.

The public hearings for the named persons from Northern Kenya continue tomorrow at KICC starting at 9.00am.

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