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Court records disappear in appeal cases

BUSINESS
By | Mar 12th 2011 | 2 min read
By | March 12th 2011
BUSINESS

By Evelyn Kwamboka

The Court of Appeal has unearthed more than 10 cases in which records have been tampered with.

The subversions have interfered with the course of justice and include the disappearance of whole or part of court records. It also includes the disappearance of records supplied to appellants and the Attorney General’s office.

This has led to appellate judges being unable to hear appeals filed on the basis of falsified documents.

Most of the cases involve convicts serving death or life sentences.

Yesterday, three appellate judges ordered for the re-trial of a man sentenced to death after it was discovered that documents filed in his appeal were interfered with.

Francis Ndung’u Wanjau, who was sentenced to death more than 10 years ago based on falsified court records, is to be produced before Murang’a Chief Magistrate’s court within the next 14 days.

Falsification of records

Justice Moijo ole Keiwua, Philip Waki and Alnashir Visram ordered for the re-trial for lack of authentic records to rely on for the appeal.

"There is no way of knowing the contents or retrieving the authentic originals, which are confirmed to have been falsified. No direct evidence is available to connect the appellant with the falsification of the records," Justice Waki said.

Justice Waki said the case is among 16 others in which the course of justice was subverted.

"The irresistible inference is nevertheless that the court registries, which are charged with the duty of safe custody of court documents, and those who work in those registries, played a key role in the falsification," he said.

In a judgement signed by the three judges, Waki said the offences facing Wanjau are of utmost gravity, attracting the death sentence, now commuted to life.

"We set aside the conviction and sentence of the appellant and order that he shall be tried by another court of competent jurisdiction," the judge said. Wanjau was convicted on April 4, 2000, by the then Murang’a Senior Resident Magistrate on two counts of robbery with violence.

The magistrate had taken over proceedings from her colleague, Nyaga Njage who went on transfer.

It was proved in court that Wanjau, who was in the company of three other persons on September 13, 1994, attacked police officers on patrol along the Kaharati/Kigumo road. He was found guilty and sentenced to death, and on October 3, 2002, two High Court judges dismissed his appeal. He then filed a notice and petition of appeal against the High Court sentence and the compilation of the records for the hearing of the appeal commenced.

"Ultimately, the records placed before this court were incapable of certification by the deputy registrar as the true records," the judge said.

This was after the two magistrates who handled the case informed the Judiciary the handwriting on the judgement and proceedings were not theirs.

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