Mwilu promises tough battle against accusers, reads political motive in her prosecution

Makueni enator Mutula Kilonzo Jnr and lawyer Cliff Ombeta follow proceedings at a Milimani court where DCJ Philomena Mwilu was due to take plea. [Photo: George Njunge /Standard]

Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu's lawyers have promised a bruising battle even as they saved her from having to plead to abuse of office charges.

Ms Mwilu has also been accused of forgery and failing to pay taxes.

Through her lawyers, the DCJ said the decision by Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Noordin Haji to prosecute her over events that took place more than five years ago had nothing to do with the fight against corruption, but was a politically motivated move to hound her out of office.

She won the first round of the battle yesterday by convincing the High Court to stop her prosecution.

But the prosecution challenged this soon after over errors in the entry of her case number, which almost overturned the temporary relief.

Mwilu’s day in court as an accused person was characterised by political undertones and a calculated legal strategy.

Her legal team of 34 top lawyers appeared following a two-pronged attack, one in the High Court and another in the magistrate's court. Their arguments saved her from pleading to the 10 charges.

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Senior Counsel James Orengo, John Khaminwa and Wiper party leader Kalonzo Musyoka led Mwilu's legal team before Anti-Corruption Court Chief Magistrate Lawrence Mugambi. They argued that the intended prosecution was politically motivated and targeted Mwilu's position.

“It is purely to secure the removal of Justice Mwilu from office and has nothing to do with fighting corruption. The charges are a collateral attack on the entire Judiciary and we cannot allow the court to continue,” said Mr Orengo.

The lawyers accused the DPP of being misused by some individuals to settle scores.

They submitted that the hurry with which the DCJ was arrested, processed and taken to court suggested there was ill motive. They asked the court to raise the threshold for allowing such charges.

Orengo claimed Mr Haji had unlawfully opted to use the Director of Criminal Investigations as a friendly accomplice in trumping up charges against the DCJ when corruption charges should have involved the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission.

The DPP's team of prosecutors led by Dorcas Oduor said they required time to respond to the submission. The chief magistrate ruled it was up to them to respond or not.

"The decision will be left to the prosecutors whether to respond to the issues raised. If they choose to exercise their right to be silent, then the court will proceed to make a determination,” he said.

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DCJ LawyersLegal BattleDeputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu