By MUTINDA MWANZIA
Embattled Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission ( TJRC) Chairman Bethwel Kiplagat risks being jailed for a year or fined Sh100,000 for declining to appear before the commission to take the witness stand on land grabbing allegations.
Kiplagat through his lawyers said he would not honour the summonses throwing into disarray Thursdayâs hearings where he was set to appear as a witness over alleged illegal acquisition of Plot No 1 in Liyavo settlement scheme in Trans Nzoia County.
The move by Kiplagat triggered a backlash from fellow commissioners who said the hearings were meant to give persons adversely mentioned by Kenyans an opportunity to be heard.
Thursday, the presiding chair Commissioner Margaret Shava, who read a joint press statement signed by the commissioners, said TJRC was surprised at the reasons advanced by Kiplagatâs lawyers for missing the hearings.
truth and justice
"The ultimate aim of the commission is to achieve reconciliation and healing through truth and justice and it is in the pursuit of the truth that Kiplagat, like any other witness, was to appear before the commission," said Shava.
She said any witness who does not comply is in breach of the law since the commissionâs summonses are backed by the law as laid out in section 7 of the Act.
Acting chair Tecla Namachanja, commissioners Berhanu Dinka, Ahmed Farah and Gertrude Chawatama were also present.
Shava said the law was clear that the decision to summon a witness lies with the commission and not any other person or institution.
"We are dismayed that although Kiplagat has claimed widely in the media that he has returned to the commission in the spirit of reconciliation and a desire to further the work of the commission, he is instead addressing the commission through his lawyers," said Shava.
She added that it is the commission and not individual commissioners that has summoned Kiplagat.
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