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Reprieve for Mwilu as court suspends graft trial

Breather comes as prosecutor decried possible conflict of interest by DCJ’s team of lawyer-politicians

The Anti-Corruption Court on Friday halted criminal proceedings against Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu following an amended stay order by the High Court. 

Chief Magistrate Lawrence Mugambi suspended the trial of Justice Mwilu saying the amended order was satisfactory. 

“Proceedings will rest at the point they had reached and the status quo of all matters relating to the case should be maintained,” he ruled.

But addressing the court, Deputy Director of  Public Prosecutions Dorcas Oduor raised fears of possible conflict in the matter because of Mwilu legal representation of 34 lawyers, comprising—sitting MPs and a team from Federation of Women Lawyers (Fida).

She said it will be practically impossible for all the lawyers to address the court and called for direction on the concern.

She stressed that conflict of interest is real because some of the lawmakers in DCJ’s case are members of parliamentary committee proceedings that grill the office of the DPP over accountability.

“An accused person has a right to be represented by an advocate of her choice whichever the number and to have them address court without time limit. All have to be heard according to the criminal procedure. But the legislators in this case have to know that the prosecution has no control of due process,” she said.

At the same time Mugambi gave Mwilu’s co-accused, Stanley Muluvi, until Tuesday next week to present orders staying his prosecution, which he had obtained from the High Court but was yet to serve the court. 

The magistrate also retained the status quo with regards to Sh5 million personal bond terms for each of the accused which related to orders he had issued earlier pending an appraisal on the High Court proceedings on October 22. The matter is scheduled to be mentioned at the High Court on October 9. 

At the same time, Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions Alexander Muteti maintained that Mwilu’s arrest and subsequent arraignment should not be taken as an attack on the independence of the Judiciary.

“The ODPP respect’s the court. We respect rights of individual persons and as an office and just like the accused persons, do expect fair trial,” he said.

He said the proceedings have been brought against the two individuals and not to the Judiciary and LSK. On Wednesday the criminal proceedings against Mwilu were suspended and referred to the High Court.

The move came after the magistrate declined to stop the proceedings saying the file number quoted on the stay order differed with the one on the case before him.

Justice Mwilu is facing several corruption related charges including improperly obtaining the execution of a Sh12 million security belonging to the Imperial Bank between August and October 2013.

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