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Magistrate in Tokyo embassy case quits over 'unfair Tobiko’s comment'

A magistrate has disqualified herself from the Sh1.7 billion criminal case facing former Permanent Secretary Thuita Mwangi and two senior government officials over the purchase of Kenyan embassy in Tokyo, Japan.

Doreen Mulekyo yesterday said she could not continue hearing the case and urged Milimani Anti-Corruption Chief Magistrate Kennedy Bidali to reallocate the file before another magistrate.

The matter was coming up for submissions by the prosecution and the defence on a “no-case-to-answer” motion filed by the accused persons after the prosecution closed its case. However, following Ms Mulekyo’s exit, the case is likely to take another dimension when it comes up for mention on February 3.

So far 18 witnesses have testified in the case involving Mwangi, former Deputy Director of Administration Anthony Mwaniki Muchiri and former Charge D’Affairs at the Kenyan embassy in Tokyo Allan Waweru Mburu. The three have denied charges of fraudulently approving the purchase of the proposed Kenyan embassy, failure to comply with procurement laws and abuse of office and are out on Sh2 million cash bail each.

However, the prosecution was unable to secure the evidence of eight Japanese nationals - Hidehiko Takashahi, a real estate agent; Akiyoshi Ohtake, a legal scrivener; Shoji Yanagawa, an attorney; Selichiro Yamaguchi, a national public servant; Tsuyoshi Takano, Real estate appraiser; Yoshito Kijima, a Real estate agent and administrative secretary; Nobuo Kuriyama, company director and Takaomi Inoue, assistant inspector in charge of the organised crime bureau to back up its case.

legal request

While dismissing the application, the Anti-Corruption Court stated that it lacked the jurisdiction to admit the legal request to have the evidence taken in Japan.

Yesterday, Mulekyo, who is currently serving in Nakuru, said on April 29 last year in the normal course of business, Director of Public Prosecutions Keriako Tobiko made what she described as an unfortunate comment for which he unreservedly apologised to the court and the defence.

“It was my considered opinion that the matter had been put to rest. However it could appear that the comment has since taken a life of its own and it is no longer tenable for me to continue hearing this matter,” she said.

By disqualifying herself, the trial magistrate said the decision could pave way for the chief magistrate to give further directions on how the case should proceed.

However, defence lawyers Paul Muite and Kioko Kilukumi asked for more time to consult with their clients. “Following the latest development, if the matter starts afresh, it will be a serious injustice to our clients, who have been in court for all this long,” Muite said.

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