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JM Kariuki ghost returns to rattle Justice Muthoga candidature

By | May 6th 2011

By Moses Njagih

The controversial issue of an alleged will left behind by assassinated Nyandarua North MP J M Kariuki resurfaced at the commission recruiting a new Chief Justice.

The Judicial Service Commission, which is conducting the interviews, grilled judge Lee Muthoga of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda on his conduct in the succession process after the murder of the outspoken MP.

Muthoga was taken to task over claims allegedly made by a section of Kariuki’s family that he destroyed the said will, when he acted as the family lawyer.

Judge Lee Muthoga at the interview for the position of Chief Justice in Nairobi, Thursday. [PHOTOS: /STANDARD]

Challenged by commissioner Abdulahi Ahmednasir, the judge vehemently denied destroying the document, disputing reports contained in a 1992 publication in an interview with one of Kariuki’s wife, Dorcas Nyambura. He said the then publisher of the magazine, may have wanted to taint his character.

Ahmednasir: What would you say about the complaints from members of the JM family against you, especially as contained in the interview with Dorcas Nyambura, saying that you destroyed the will?

Muthoga: If Dorcas Nyambura uttered those words as quoted, she never told me about it. I am not alive to any such issue. In all the meetings, all the three wives of JM, her, Terry and Mwikali were present… I see no basis in claims that I destroyed the family’s will.

Other beneficiaries

Let me explain the circumstances although I would not have wanted to do so. The three widows were unable to agree on the matters of the property. The law then was that according to the Kikuyu customary, the assets were supposed to be divided among the houses, meaning the wives, but the same was later changed to include children as the beneficiaries. This is what brought the conflict and as a family lawyer, I referred the matter to the public trustee.

Ahmednasir: What about the Income Tax File, do you know anything about it?

Muthoga: Yes, I do

Ahmednasir: Did you destroy it and if yes, is that a criminal offence given that you destroyed Government property?

Muthoga: When this was happening I was about three years in practice, and I could have done something that was inappropriate. But if I can recount, there was this file that nobody knew where it came from. We talked trying to find out who could have brought the Government file to the house, considered whether to send it back to the Government. But again, we thought the Government had something to do with Kariuki’s disappearance, so we agreed to burn the file. But I don’t think it contained any material that would make anyone think that we concealed anything.

Apart from Kariuki’s matter, the judge found himself defending allegations that he forged another will to suit the interests of a party in determination of the administration of the estate of a Mr Onesmus Wagura.

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