NAIROBI, Kenya, May 29 – Chief Justice Willy Mutunga has pledged that 92 criminal appeals by prisoners at the Kamiti Maximum Prison will all be cleared by July.
Speaking when he visited the prisoners, Mutunga said the judiciary will review prison records to determine prisoners who have over-stayed in prison waiting for appeals.
“All the 92 cases will be heard in June and July. I have even brought the cause list. Criminal appeals will start on 3 June and the cases will be heard continuously without interruptions. We will make sure all the cases and appeals will be heard,” he pledged.
Mutunga who admitted that the court was facing workload challenges urged for patience and promised that 2,000 cases to be heard before the High Court will also be cleared.
Mutunga further promised prisoners serving life sentences that he will request the president to act on files recommended by the power of mercy committee which he however admitted that it was inefficient in its work.
Most of the prisoners serving life and death sentences at the country’s biggest prison complained over extensive delays in clearing their appeals and cases.
Those given a chance to address the CJ said they had waited for as long as 10 years for their court proceedings.
Others blamed the police and the previous judiciary for massive corruption that had led to convictions of even innocent people.
“Problems start at the police station. Our belongings are taken from us and they are never recorded. When we ask for the recorded statements, the police charge us for them, it is hard for us to start our cases without the statements,” one of the prisoners serving a life sentence decried.
“Some of us are guilty others are not. Since some judges and magistrates were declared unfit, our cases should be reviewed. We are the end products of ills and incompetence of the past judiciary,” the prisoners complained to Mutunga.
On behalf of prisoners with special needs such as the blind, the old and the handicapped, speakers urged the Chief Justice to hasten their cases so that they could be released.
“This man was not blind when he came here, he became blind after he fell sick. Look at him, he cannot see. God has punished him enough, look at him,” another prisoner begged as he appealed to the Chief Justice to consider his case.
According to the prison authorities, Kamiti Maximum is among the most overcrowded prisons.
Whereas there should be only 23,000 prisoners across the Kenyan prisons, currently there are over 50,000 inmates in the prisons.
Mutunga promised to do his best to ensure that pending cases will be finalised.
He warned cartels that take advantage of the prisoners through extortion will be dealt with to ensure all access justice equally.
Mutunga further promised of frequent reviews and updates that will ensure prisoners understand the progression of their cases.