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Ten in Sh8bn Karen land case off the hook

Ten people and a company charged alongside former Cabinet Secretaries Charity Ngilu and Michael Kamau in the Sh8 billion Karen land case have been freed.

The Court of Appeal quashed the criminal charges against the 11, saying they were investigated when there were no commissioners at the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC). Those charged alongside Mrs Ngilu, now Kitui Governor, include former National Social Security Fund managing trustee Josephat Konzolo. They were accused of engaging in illegal transactions in the land deal.

Mrs Ngilu and Mr Kamau, who was accused of irregularly altering a drawing for a road leading to the loss of Sh33 million, were cleared earlier by the Court of Appeal.

Those charged alongside Mr Kamau included former Principal Secretary Gilbert Mong’are Arasa, who was being defended by lawyer Cecil Miller.

Terminating the cases, Court of Appeal Judges Milton Makhandia, William Ouko and Kathurima M’Inoti said the trial was irregular.

INVESTIGATIONS

The EACC began investigations after receiving a directive from President Uhuru Kenyatta, when he made a State of the Nation address to Parliament on March 26, 2015.

The President directed the EACC to conclude investigations within 60 days, then forward the file to Director of Public Prosecutions Keriako Tobiko for action.

Soon after the presidential address, five ministers were suspended. These were Mrs Ngilu (Lands), Mr Kamau (Transport), Mr Michael Chirchir (Energy), Mr Kazungu Kambi (Labour) and Mr Felix Koskey (Agriculture).

JUDGMENT

Defence lawyers Miller, Hiram Kago and Stephen Bundotich on Thursday told Anti-Corruption Court Senior Principal Magistrate Lawrence Mugambi that the same way Mrs Ngilu and Mr Kamau were freed, all the remaining 13 suspects had been released by Appellate Judges Makhandia, Ouko and M’Inoti.

Mr Kago told the magistrate that the appellate court directed them to present their decree and judgment to the Judicial Review and Constitutional Division for further directions.

“We have been directed to present the Court of Appeal decree quashing the criminal trial against the 13 suspects for issuance of fresh directions,” Mr Kago said. “We have already filed a fresh application at the High Court for further directions.”

State prosecutor Ashimoshi Shitambashi confirmed that he was aware of the Court of Appeal orders quashing the prosecution of the 11.

The case against Mrs Ngilu was terminated early in the year.

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