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Late charges secure Mwilu freedom – until Wednesday

He took issue with charges being preferred against Mwilu and her co-accused Stanley Muluvi late in the day, which would have denied them access to bond since the relevant offices had been shut/CFM NEWS

NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 28 – Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu has been released on a personal bond of Sh5 million as an anti-corruption court at the Milimani Law Courts adjourned Tuesday evening.

Anti-Corruption Magistrate Lawrence Mugambi asked the Deputy Chief Justice to execute the bond as a promissory note for her appearance in court Wednesday for further directions.

“The court orders that pending further proceedings that will continue tomorrow (Wednesday), each accused shall be released on executing a personal bond of Sh5 million. They are further ordered to appear before this court at 9am on Wednesday,” the magistrate rule.

He took issue with charges being preferred against Mwilu and her co-accused Stanley Muluvi late in the day, which would have denied them access to release on bail since the relevant offices had been shut.

Mwilu who was arrested earlier in the day is to face five corruption-related charges including improperly obtaining the execution of a Sh12mn security belonging to the Imperial Bank between August and October 2013.

The personal bond was granted following an application by her lead lawyer, Senator James Orengo, who said Mwilu intended to challenge constitutionality of the case.

“We have very extensive unconstitutional issues in relation to the charge before plea is taken,” he told the court, and assured that “We don’t intend to cause any delay in this process but it is a right which we’re going to demonstrate that a challenge to a change or a plea is not only a jurisdictional question but also the constitutionality of the proceedings.”

Orengo was flanked by lawyers John Khaminwa, Julie Soweto and former Law Society of Kenya President Okong’o Omugeni.

The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions led by Dorcas Oduor, Emily Kamau, Duncan Ondimu, had asked the court to dismiss the application for bail.

Speaking to the press ahead of Mwilu’s arraignment, Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Noordin Haji had listed acceptance of money in circumstances that undermine public confidence in the office she holds as among charges she would face.

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Haji said the charges stemmed from an investigation that was carried out by the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI).

DCI officers led by chief detective George Kinoti arrested Mwilu at the Supreme Court buildings Tuesday afternoon before taking her to DCI Headquarters from where she was processed and subsequently taken to Milimani Law Courts to take plea.

Mwilu will also be charged with abuse of office, unlawful failure to pay taxes, and conducting herself in disregard of the law.

Haji said he had informed Chief Justice David Maraga of the decision grant consent for the prosecution of Mwilu on criminal charges arising from the DCI investigation.

“This decision has not been taken lightly, but it is the right decision under the law,” the DPP said while refuting claims that he could be acting on instructions from the Executive.

“Most of us in the Office of Public Prosecutor are indeed officers of the court and the dignity and independence of the Judiciary is dear to us,” he said affirming that the decision to prosecute Mwilu was reached independently.

Haji said the arrest was in line with a commitment to fight corruption and uphold the rule of law, without which the criminal justice system will crumble.

He warned that his office will not hesitate to crack the whip on judicial officers who obstruct the delivery of justice.

“There can be no justice if lawyers, prosecutors, magistrates, judges, and investigators use their position to enrich themselves at the expense of the Kenyan people,” said Haji.

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The DPP who took his oath of office on March 28 restated his commitment to wage an aggressive war against all forms of graft.

In an apparent reference to ongoing efforts by a multi-agency team to stop illicit trade and infiltration of contraband goods into the market, Haji said his office will protect the health of Kenyans by ensuring products offered for sale meet requisite standards.

“We’ll reinvigorate the efforts to protect the public in areas such as food and consumer product safety,” he vowed.


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