Former Justice Minister, Martha Karua instigated the arrest and malicious prosecution of Justice GBM Kariuki when he walked out on her, that is according to documents filed in a civil suit at the High Court.
Justice Kariuki, a judge of the Court of Appeal, had sued the Attorney General after an attempted murder case against him was dropped.
The judge said he was wrongfully arrested ‘commando style’ and publicly humiliated on October 20, 2008 for “attempting to cause the death of Robert Karori by stabbing him in the stomach by (sic) a sharp object on October 18, 2008 along Kabete Road in Spring Valley”.
Investigating officers told the court they were under pressure from the Attorney General and the Justice minister (Martha Karua) to arrest the judge and keep him in cells although investigations were incomplete and there was no evidence to support a murder charge.
The judge, who says he read malice in his arrest and prosecution for ending his relationship with Karua, however told the Chief Magistrate’s Court that he did not sue her because it is the State and not the Minister who prosecuted him.
Following his acquittal for lack of evidence on October 15, 2009, Justice Kariuki sued the State for damages arising from malicious prosecution and was awarded Sh5 million by Justice George Odunga on January 14, 2016.
Part of the judgement reads: “His arrest was affected by police officers in not less than two vehicles who were armed with AK47 rifles in the company of the press.
Instead of ringing the bell, the police officers climbed over the gate, hence his contention that the arrest was made in a commando style. On being arrested, the plaintiff was taken to Gigiri and thereafter to Kamukunji Police Station.
“It was during his incarceration that he learned that the incident was instigated by then Minister for Justice, Martha Karua, who then sent her lawyer, Steve Njiru to confirm that he was being humiliated in the manner desired by the said Minister who also instructed the Attorney General to ensure prosecution was mounted.
“According to the plaintiff, he was made to understand that the PCIO (Provincial Criminal Investigation Officer) was under pressure from both the Attorney General and the Minister for Justice. The police admitted that the charge of attempted murder was a hoax and this was confirmed by the findings of the trial court.”
The judgment further reads that during cross examination, “asked about the Minister for Justice, the plaintiff disclosed that the Minister was his friend of many years and was getting back at him for having walked out on her.
Asked why he did not sue her, the plaintiff said that she was the minister and it was the State that had mounted his prosecution. Asked who the minster was, the plaintiff disclosed that it was Hon Martha Karua.”
During the hearing, Patrick Kiswii who appeared for the Attorney General, stated that he called the plaintiff to summon him to the police station, but the number was disconnected. “It was then that with fellow officers, he moved to the plaintiff’s house where they were denied access to the compound.
The witness denied that they received instructions from Hon Martha Karua to press charges and averred that there was no other person involved.”
Justice Odunga’s ruling further reads, “The Nairobi Area Criminal Investigation Officer wrongfully caused the plaintiff to be publicly humiliated and occasioned considerable distress, as a result, the plaintiff’s name, character and reputation as a judge and law-abiding citizen were damaged.
To the plaintiff, the powers of the offices of Nairobi Area Provincial Criminal Investigation Officer and Director of Public Prosecutions were abused and used to subvert justice and violate constitutional rights of the plaintiff, hence the defendant is liable to pay damages to the plaintiff as a result of the wrongful actions of the government officers concerned.”
Justice Odunga, in his ruling, finally notes: “In this case, it is clear that the arrest and arraignment of the plaintiff was done in haste and prematurely, and I daresay recklessly. Further from the evidence, it would seem that the intention of the investigators was to ‘nail’ the plaintiff.
The plaintiff contended that the prosecution was instigated by then Minister for Justice Hon Martha Karua with whom they had parted ways apparently acrimoniously.
I, however, cannot make any adverse findings against the said person as she was never made a party to these proceedings, hence to do so would amount to a violation of her rights to a hearing in disregard to the rules of natural justice.
“Therefore, considering the plaintiff’s position as well as the inflationary tendencies, the nature of the offence which carried life sentence, it is my view that an award of Sh5,000,000.00 for general damages for malicious prosecution is reasonable compensation in the circumstances and I award the same.”