Court officials in Sh30 million heroin case claim they are pawns in fight between DPP and judiciary

Three judicial officers charged with the disappearance of heroin worth Sh30 million yesterday claimed they had been made scapegoats in a contest between the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and Judiciary.

Onesmus Momanyi, Abdalla Abubakar and Lawrence Bayan of Mombasa Law Courts are facing charges over loss of the heroin, which was an exhibit in the trial of Hussein Masoud Eid Bakari.

They are also charged with stealing Sh600,000 found on Bakari.

Despite jailing Bakari for 30 years with a Sh90 million fine, Principal Magistrate Edgar Kagoni is in trouble with the DPP for allegedly causing the loss of the exhibit, and for allowing the convict to retain Sh600,000 found on him when he was arrested.

“The applicants are downtrodden. They should not be collateral to the misunderstanding between the DPP and the magistrate,” said the trio’s lawyer Shadrack Wambui.

On Monday, Justice Reuben Nyakundi suspended the prosecution of Kagoni following two applications by his lawyers and the Kenya Magistrates and Judges Association (KMJA).

On Tuesday, Justice Reuben Nyakundi declined to stop the prosecution of the three officials who were charged in Nairobi before Chief Magistrate Lucas Onyina despite their lawyers' efforts to stop the trial.

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The DPP claims Kagoni committed a crime by ruling that the Sh600,000 be returned to the convict instead of it being forfeited to the State.

The DPP also claims Kagoni committed a crime by failing to order that the drugs be placed under police custody at the end of the trial. But KMJA and the magistrate's lawyers have challenged the intended prosecution, arguing that prosecuting magistrates for their rulings violates the Constitution.

Arguments in the Kagoni suit begin at the Mombasa High Court today with lawyers for the state, defence and KMJA present.

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