What dropping of cases portends for justice system

Several criminal cases facing high profile individuals have been dropped and those implicated have not only shed off the tag of suspects but are holding high profile jobs in the new government.

That the suspects of previous regime have become key levers of the current one is not in doubt, but the argument here is not about whether the cases were instituted on the basis of suspected criminal evidence of those involved or whether they were politically instituted, but about what the actions of charging those suspected and dropping the charges in a huff, portends for the criminal justice system.

What are the long term injuries inflicted on our justice system when the impression created out there is that of justice dispensed or denied, on the whims or instigation of politics?

And what does it say about the Director of Criminal Investigations who originated the cases being not only politically demonised, but haunted out of office like an outcast while the Director of Public Prosecutions who actually sectioned those cases, is not only hailed for his professionalism but promoted?

The jury is still out there.  Being no legal mind, I could as well be advancing misguided pedestrian propositions but I would be happy to hear what the learnt friends have to say on this. The fact that some of those who faced the charges, including murder, claimed they were framed by the previous government due their political leanings should be reason to raise the country’s legal and judicial antennae as it suggests serious political interference in the judicial system. 

It has now become an established norm for dramatic and media hyped arrests of individuals and their equally dramatic appearances in courts under heavy security. Those appearances are also heighted by representation by top criminal counsel. At times, the cases have attracted so many lawyers, raising further questions about whether the high numbers represent the legal interests of the cases or the pecuniary value of the individuals involved. The number of lawyers appearing for one individual has been as high as 100 with each professing to bear direct briefs of the accused persons.

Against the backdrop of all these, is it not time Kenyans should ponder the long implications of a criminal justice system that has become prone to serious accusations of miscarrying justice both in charging and dropping cases.

The DPP who has often come under serious criticism and accusations of acting on the behest of the political system has always defended himself insisting his office and his person are independent and that both take no orders from any extraneous force. The question that has probably remained unanswered is why the cases where not terminated before the regime change if the DPP’s independent office found the evidence in his possession inadequate to support a successful prosecution at the time because all the cases that have been dropped were instituted during the previous regime?

With the seeming muted response to this events from the legal profession ringing loud, does the public take it that this intriguing approach to prosecution of crime in high places in this country has become a normal judicial practice?

And is it business as usual when the leadership and the ordinary people complain about high level corruption, but only an insignificant proportion of those arrested and charged in courts ever get indicted?  

Does it not worry legal or judicial minds that from the days of the monumental Goldenberg scam, to Anglo leasing to NYS and Arror and Kimwerer dams scandals, nobody has taken criminal responsibility?

Against this background, the jailing of an MP from Western for his involvement in the maize scandal would appear strange indeed. It’s my view that a through interrogation and judicial scrutiny of these events be undertaken to determine the long term impact they may have on the way crime of whatever nature in high places is treated.

We need a robust assessment of how this country has approached cases involving powerful people.

The writer is a veteran journalist. [email protected]