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Freedom at last for Okemo as court dismisses extradition case

Former Finance Minister Chris Okemo. [File, Standard]

It is freedom at last for former Finance Minister Chris Okemo after more than 10 years of battle to stop extradition to the United Kingdom to face charges of money laundering.

Nairobi Chief Magistrate Roseline Oganyo Wednesday saved Okemo from the pain of travelling thousands of kilometres away from home to face the charges after ruling that the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) had not provided sufficient evidence to warrant the extradition.

“I have taken cognizance of his medical condition and his age and taking all factors into consideration, the court finds that the DPP has not adduced sufficient evidence to enable this court grant the orders for his extradition to the Island of Jersey,” ruled Ms Oganyo.

The magistrate, however, ruled that she only terminated the extradition proceedings against Mr Okemo and not his co-accused, former Kenya Power boss Samuel Gichuru, whose trial was suspended because he is ailing and could not attend the case.

Oganyo blamed the DPP for bungling the case when he failed to call up witnesses to produce evidence to support it.

According to the magistrate, Okemo has suffered so much in the past decade because of the uncertainty over his extradition and it would be unfair to let him go in the absence of sufficient evidence.

“The matter has dragged in court for over a decade and the disabilities being suffered by Okemo are directly attributed to the case. I will not allow this extradition to torment him any further,” ruled Oganyo.

Her decision was a big relief to the former Cabinet minister who has been having the extradition case hanging over his head since April 2011, when the Attorney General for Jersey Island, Timothy Le Cocq, requested for their extradition to face charges of money laundering.

The request was followed by a red alert notice issued by Interpol against Okemo and Gichuru.