Kenya: Judicial staff accused of bribery fails to take plea

Josphat Gitonga Wambugu, a senior support staff at Mukurweini Law Courts in Nyeri, when he appeared before Nyeri Chief Magistrate John Onyiego on December 29, 2015 charged with taking a bribe from a member of the public. PHOTO: MOSE SAMMY/STANDARD

A senior support staff at Mukurweini Law Courts accused of soliciting a bribe failed to take plea yesterday, citing poor mental health.

Josphat Gitonga's lawyer told Nyeri Chief Magistrate John Onyiego that his client was not fit to plead as he had been undergoing psychiatric management.

Gitonga (pictured) is alleged to have solicited for Sh1,500 from one Monica Wangari on December 14 as an inducement for facilitating the release of court proceedings on her case.

The lawyer, Charles King'ori, produced Gitonga's medical records from Nyeri County Referral Hospital and Nanyuki Teaching and Referral Hospital, which showed he was still under mental supervision. He underscored Gitonga's urgent need for both mental and physical medication and requested for a deferment of the case until a medical report on his client's mental status is presented in court.

But the chief magistrate observed that the accused appeared normal. Nevertheless, he directed that Gitonga undergoes mental assessment and then be remanded until tomorrow, when the case will be mentioned. He also ordered the Probation department to prepare a report on Gitonga and file it today.