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Kosgey has case to answer over car imports

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 29 – Suspended Industrialisation Minister Henry Kosgey has now been put on his defence by the anti-corruption court for issuing waivers for importation of motor vehicles exceeding the mandatory eight-year limit.

Magistrate Elijah Obaga on Friday ruled that there was sufficient evidence adduced by the prosecution to warrant Mr Kosgey to defend himself.  The hearing is due to be held on August 18.

The Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission (KACC) alleges that Mr Kosgey granted exemptions for the importation of more than a hundred cars older than eight years, and waived taxes for them.

On Friday Mr Kosgey through his lawyer Julius Kemboy said he would defend himself by providing the court with sworn evidence.

If convicted of all the 12 charges, the minister faces a maximum of 10 years in jail.  Mr Kosgey was first arraigned in court on January 4 hours after he stepped aside to allow for investigations into allegations of abuse of office.

The minister has maintained his innocence since the matter became public.

“I wish to state that my actions in this matter are above reproach. I have committed no wrongs,” Mr Kosgey had said when he announced his stepping aside.

In court, the Tinderet MP also maintained that no money was lost by the government in connection with the exemptions.

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He faces more serious charges at the International Criminal Court, where the Prosecutor has named him as an organiser of the post-election violence that killed about 1,300 people in early 2008.

Mr Kosgey and suspended Higher Education Minister William Ruto are facing similar charges before the ICC together with radio presenter Joshua arap Sang.

Other Kenyans who are before the ICC include Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, Head of Civil Service Francis Muthaura and former Police Commissioner Maj Gen (rtd) Hussein Ali.

The six Kenyans are due to appear before the ICC beginning September 1 (Mr Ruto, Mr Kosgey and Mr Sang) while Mr Kenyatta, Mr Muthaura and Mr Ali will appear on September 21 for hearing of confirmation of charges.

Last week, international lawyers for Mr Kosgey and Mr Ruto camped in the Rift Valley – the epicentre of the post election violence to collect evidence and interview their witnesses.

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