The trial of 37 suspects in the looting of National Youth Service’s Sh230 million yesterday hit a snag after their lawyers demanded to be supplied with the prosecution’s evidence.
Anti-Corruption Court Chief Magistrate Douglas Ogoti adjourned the hearing to allow prosecution and defence lawyers to sort out the mess over the disputed documents relating to transactions between NYS and some companies suspected to have benefited from the proceeds.
“Both defence and prosecution should sit and reconcile all the documents to ascertain which have been supplied and which are missing. They should also include all the statements of the accused recorded by the investigators,” said Ogoti.
The magistrate also ordered the investigating officer to swear an affidavit to confirm that he was not able to trace and supply some documents the defence claimed they had not been supplied with.
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The accused lawyers Stephen Ligunya, Migos Ogamba and Assa Nyakundi had complained that an inventory containing the list of evidence supplied by the prosecution were different while some documents, including a letter written by the first witness to the DPP, were missing.
The prosecutors, however, dismissed claims that they were relying on evidence not submitted to the accused, stating that their case was not built on the disputed documents the lawyers sought to be supplied with.
Those facing trial over the NYS scandal are former Youth and Gender PS Lillian Mbogo-Omollo, former NYS Director General Richard Ndubai, his former assistant Nicholas Ahere, former director Sammy Mbugua, former Finance Director Wellington Lubira and several other NYS staff.
Also charged are the Naivasha-based Ngirita family —Wambere Ngirita, Gichini Ngirita, Wambui Ngirita, Njeri Ngirita and Lucy Ngirita — who allegedly received millions of shillings through their companies without delivering anything to NYS.
The 37 accused are facing 82 charges ranging from conspiracy to commit an economic crime, abuse of office, failure to comply with procurement rules, neglect of official duty, fraudulent making of payments, breach of trust, false accounting and making false documents.
The magistrate last week allowed the prosecution to introduce new evidence they believed were crucial in proving that one of the suspects, Phyllis Ngirita, irregularly received money from the NYS.
Mr Ogoti ruled that locking out the evidence that includes payment vouchers and bank statements would amount to miscarriage of justice. The vouchers had apparently gone missing during investigation.
The defence lawyers had objected to use of the vouchers and bank statements, arguing they should have been included at the start of the trial. But Ogoti overruled them, stating that each accused would have a chance to question and cross-examine witnesses relying on the documents.
According to the prosecutors, the payment vouchers had been misplaced during documents examination by investigators and that they only obtained the statements after the pre-trial had taken place.
The bank statements detail Ms Ngirita’s transactions between August 13, 2016 and last April 20, specimen signatures and two statements from KCB officials in Gilgil and Naivasha.
The hearing resumes today.