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Judge defends rulings in high profile cases

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 8 – Interviews for judges to the Supreme Court entered the third day on Wednesday, with the appearance of High Court Judges Muga Apondi, Mohammed Khadhar Ibrahim and Philip Tunoi.

Justice Apondi who was the first to appear before the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) said he had \’fiercely been independent\’ in his rulings irrespective of status of the parties involved.

"I have been fiercely independent in my decisions and judgements whether popular or unpopular.  I am conscious and I cannot be compromised," he asserted.

Justice Apondi has presided over high profile cases, including one involving former President Daniel Moi versus a large scale farmer in Nakuru Malcom Bell, the murder case of Naivasha rancher Tom Cholmondeley who was charged with the murder of stonemason Robert Njoya, as well as a suit between the Attorney General Rwandan versus fugitive Rwandan Felicien Kabuga.

He however said all the cases have ended up in the Court of Appeal although he strongly believed he gave objective and balanced judgements disregarding economic or social status of litigants.

Commissioner Florence Mwangangi tasked Justice Muga to explain how he would restore public confidence and demonstrate balance in his rulings, in view of the high profile cases where he ruled "against the public interest."

"I gave my reasons for my judgements. Even if I am confronted today, I will still stand by my position. I took my time, I did my research and I wrote very well balanced sentences and I still stand by all the decisions that I made," he said.

Justice Apondi who described himself as a prompt and hardworking judge however said he had been overloaded with cases since his transfer to the Milimani Commercial Courts two years ago.

"I have really been pushed to the edge. There is no time in the Judiciary that I have worked they way I have in the last two years. If in the process I made any mistake, I am the kind of person who will accept there can be mistakes in the process.

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He told the commission that the Commercial Courts were staffed with only three judges instead of at least seven.

"We are working under unbearable conditions. It is not humanly possible to work to the expectations of Kenyans. Since I went to the courts I have not been going for lunch most of the time. I have lost five pounds, please in your recruitment of judges remember Milimani Commercial Law Courts," he pleaded.

Justices Ibrahim and Justice Tunoi appeared later in the afternoon.

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