Sh8b Karen land deal suspects could walk free due to court’s typing error

NAIROBI, KENYA: A typing error by the Court of Appeal could see six other suspects walk free over grabbing of the controversial Karen land.

Former National Social Security Fund managing trustee Jos Konzolo, Sara Mwenda, Pauline Gatimu, Mark Muigai, Macmilan Mutiso and James Mbaluka argued that the Court of Appeal order that set free former Lands CS Charity Ngilu applied to all of them and that they should also be acquitted.

"As it stands, there is no case against the accused persons. It is therefore not r right for the Director of Public Prosecution to say they have no grace to partake the benefit of the Court of Appeal order granted to Charity Ngilu," said their lawyer Hiram Kago.

According to the lawyer, the Court of Appeal order was specific that the criminal trial relating to the 134-acre Karen land valued at Sh8 billion had been terminated and wondered why only Ngilu was acquitted while the others are still facing trial.

But deputy DPP Fredrick Ashimosi argued that there was a typing error in the consent order, and that they need to rectify to prove that only Ngilu was acquitted.

"We admit that the order is not in tandem with the consent we entered to terminate the case against Ngilu. It might have been a typing error by the Court of Appeal but that does not mean the accused should be acquitted since we have not agreed to terminate their case," said Ashimosi.

Mr Kago however insisted that there was no typing error and that the accused should not suffer selective justice.

According to the lawyer, they were never invited to negotiations between Ngilu and the DPP leading to her acquittal.

"They would have notified us that the consent order would be selective and only apply to Ngilu. We wonder why they had to wait until we make application for our clients to be set free to bring up the issue of typing errors," said Kago.

Principal magistrate Lawrence Mogambi ordered the DPP to seek clarification from the Court of Appeal within two weeks failure to which he will acquit the suspects.

Ngilu had entered into consent with the DPP to terminate charges against her after negotiations, with the consent being endorsed by Appellate Judges Alnasir Visram, Wanjiru Karanja and Jamila Mohamed as the final court order.

Under the order, the DPP agreed not to pursue further charges while Ms Ngilu agreed not to pursue any claim against the office of the Attorney General, the DPP or the EACC for malicious prosecution.

The former CS was charged with obstructing anti-corruption officials from investigating Karen land scandal in June 2015, while the other suspects were accused of conspiracy to transfer the land between 2005 and October 2014.


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