DPP Haji demands recusal of magistrate in case against former KEBS MD Ongwae

July 11, 2019 (2 weeks ago) 10:01 am
The prosecution is also seeking an order to stay the criminal charges against former Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) Managing Director Charles Ongwae (pictured) and nine others, to allow the issue of recusal to be handled first/CFM – FILE

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 11 – Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) Nordin Haji wants a Magistrate presiding over a criminal case facing former Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) Managing Director Charles Ongwae disqualified from the matter.

In an urgent application filed on Wednesday, the DPP through Senior Assistant Director, Alexander Muteti, said trial magistrate, Kennedy Cheruiyot, has openly expressed bias and he will not be fair in handling the case.

“The judicial officer has exhibited bias and made pronouncement outside the court that touch on the integrity of the case,” the petition reads.

Muteti said the application raises fundamental issues that ought to be addressed before the hearing of the case.

The prosecution is also seeking an order to stay the criminal charges against Ongwae and nine others, to allow the issue of recusal to be handled first.

Muteti said the trial magistrate is handling other similar matters facing  Ongwae.

The application for recusal will be heard on July 26.

Defense lawyers James Singh, Edward Oonge and others have indicated they will strongly oppose the application for recusal on grounds that it constitutes interference with the administration of justice

“It appears to be a window shopping on the part of the prosecution,” the defense said.

This is not the first time the DPP is making such application. Sometime in May the DPP applied for the disqualification of Senior Counsel Paul Muite from appearing for two accused persons in another case involving KEBS due to what he termed as conflict of interest.

The DPP said that Muite is a long term retainer with KEBS and that he holds information pertaining to the criminal case facing Benson Oduor Ngesa and OCP (K) Limited.

“Having acted for KEBS and now being retained by the two accused is classic case of conflict of interest which warrants the intervention of the court,” he said

He said that Muite has access to the statements of the witnesses who had been lined up by the prosecution and his continued participating in the proceedings will be an affront to the administration of justice.

“The court is duty-bound to ensure that ethical standards are applied and maintained during the proceedings of the criminal case,” he argues.

The DPP went on to terminate criminal proceedings against Muite’s client through a plea bargaining agreement and subsequently ordered a consignment of fertilizer belonging to OCP (K) Limited held at port of Mombasa be released to him.

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