Journalist Walter Barasa photo:standard
Journalist Walter Barasa has lost his freedom because his lawyer failed to comply with orders requiring him to amend one of the records in the appeal against his extradition.
The Court of Appeal lifted orders that had blocked the police from arresting Mr Barasa until his case challenging extradition to International Criminal Court (ICC) is determined.
With the decision by Justices Phillip Waki, Kathurima M’inoti and Patrick Kiage, Mr Barasa who is wanted by the International ICC to face witness tampering charges, no longer has the protection of the court from imminent arrest.
The Hague-based court issued sealed arrest warrants against the journalist, lawyer Paul Gacheru and Phillip Bett on October 2, 2013 after claims of interference with witnesses.
Barasa has been fighting his extradition since, but the orders issued means that the will have to now do it when he is in jail awaiting conclusion of the case.
His lawyer, Mr Kibe Mungai annoyed the judges by sending a junior lawyer from his firm to seek adjournment. Mungai was at the High Court, before Justice Luka Kimaru, ready to argue Mr Gacheru’s case.
It emerged that the court had ordered Mr Mungai to correct one of the appeal records last year and at the same time have it served to Attorney General Githu Muigai and Director of Pubic Prosecutions Keriako Tobiko and lawyer Wilfred Nderitu, but he never complied.
The judges were told that he had failed to comply with the orders as a result of miscommunication.
A text message that he sent on Monday evening, notifying his colleagues that the appeal would not proceed made matters worse.
Mr Nderitu told the court that he had twice written to Mr Mungai, asking that he should be served with appeal papers but he had not received an answer.
Both the DPP and the AG wanted the judges to dismiss the appeal, but the judges ruled that they needed to punish the lawyer for “playing games with the court”.
They argued that three years on, they had not seen the papers of one of the appeals despite reminders to the lawyer that he ought to serve them.
“We are far from impressed by the conduct of the lawyer. It boggles the mind that the lawyer lacks civility with the court and his colleagues and then risks with the case of his client,” the judges observed.
“We take note that he went to a junior court and sent a junior lawyer to this court to seek adjournment. The lawyer is playing games with this court.”
The judges decided not to dismiss the appeal and instead have the orders it had issued on May 29, 2014 protecting Barasa from arrest lifted as a punishment to the lawyer.
They also slapped Mr Mungai with the cost of the hearing, which he is to personally pay failure to which it will attract interest.
“We ought to punish truancy of the lawyer and ensure justice for his client. The protective order issued by this court giving protection against the arrest of the appellant is hereby vacated,” they ruled.