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Extradition case against Okemo and Gichuru pushed to October 21

NATIONAL
By Paul Ogemba | October 7th 2021
Former Finance Minister Chris Okemo and former Kenya Power boss Samuel Gichuru at a Nairobi Law Court in 2016 [Courtesy]

Extradition proceedings against former Finance Minister Chris Okemo and former Kenya Power boss Samuel Gichuru have been postponed after one of the lawyers got ill.

The case was set for hearing before the Supreme Court but the bench was informed that Senior Counsel Waweru Gatonye who represents Gichuru was indisposed and requested for an adjournment to allow him recover.

“We sympathise with the predicament of the lawyer and are inclined to allow the application for adjournment. But this will serve as the last adjournment as the case has taken too long to conclude,” ruled the judges.

The other lawyers, Fred Ngatia who represents Okemo, Taib Ali Taib for the Director of Public Prosecution and Emmanuel Bitta for the Attorney General were all ready to proceed with the hearing but agreed to accommodate the request by Gatonye to adjourn the hearing.

The case is being heard by Chief Justice Martha Koome alongside Judges Mohammed Ibrahim, Smokin Wanjala, Njoki Ndung’u and William Ouko. They scheduled October 21 for the hearing.

Okemo and Gichuru are wanted in the United Kingdom’s Jersey Island to face charges of money laundering and misconduct in public office but they have been fighting the move to have them charged and tried in a foreign court since 2011.

Theirs has been a long 10-year battle against the extradition to Jersey Island which started at the magistrate’s court, moved to the High Court, proceeded to the Court of Appeal and now before the Supreme Court.

It is alleged they defrauded millions of shillings from Kenya Power and Lighting Company between 1998 and 2002 and hid proceeds in offshore accounts in the UK.

Following a request by the Jersey Island in April 2011, the Director of Public Prosecution started the extradition proceedings before a magistrate’s court but the two moved to the High Court to quash the case arguing it was unlawful and against their rights.

According to Okemo and Gichuru, the money allegedly laundered belonged to Kenya Power and if there was any complaint then it would have been filed before the Kenyan courts which has jurisdiction to prosecute them.

However, the then High Court judge Isaac Lenaola (currently a Supreme Court Judge) dismissed their petition and allowed the proceedings to continue before the magistrate’s court.

Dissatisfied with the decision, Okemo and Gichuru moved to the Court of Appeal where Appellate Judges Erastus Githinji, Hannah Okwengu and Jamila Mohammed stopped their extradition to Jersey Island to face the charges.

The Appellate Judges ruled the DPP’s decision to commence the extradition proceedings against the two was illegal, invalid and against their rights since it is only the Attorney General who had the power to act on a request to extradite a citizen to another country.

The Judges also quashed the extradition proceedings against Okemo and Gichuru ruling that there was insufficient evidence to support claims made by Jersey Island and that if there was any, then they should have been charged in Kenya where the offences are alleged to have happened.

It’s the decision the DPP has appealed at the Supreme Court claiming that it will affect all other extradition proceedings they have filed against people wanted by foreign countries to face criminal charges.

The prosecutors also want the apex court to determine who between the DPP’s and the AG’s office is mandated to commence extradition proceedings.

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