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DPP: Akasha judges face arrest over bribes

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By IBRAHIM ORUKO
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By PHILIP MUYANGA
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Investigators are closing in on the judges reported to have been bribed to frustrate the extradition proceedings against two Akasha brothers, Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji has said.

The DPP said his office was reviewing the evidence submitted by the US government on the culpability of the judges with a view to arresting and prosecuting them.

Speaking on Tuesday on Citizen TV, Mr Haji said the revelations by members of the Akasha family in a New York court had fortified his claims that there was corruption in the Judiciary.

“I stand vindicated and corrected. You just have to look at the Akasha case in New York. There are, and this will come out soon, judicial officers who are corrupt. Americans have evidence. I don’t think anyone will stand up and say we are revisiting” he said.

Last month, Baktash Akasha and Ibrahim Akasha confessed under oath to having offered millions of shillings to judicial officers and police as inducement to forestall their extradition to the US to face drug-related charges.

The confession in a New York court prompted US authorities to seek the arrest and extradition of the judges, police and some lawyers to the US to face charges of obstructing justice.

A Cabinet secretary, a governor, a top lawyer, a prosecutor, a senior detective, two judges and two magistrates are among scores of prominent Kenyans that the US Department of Justice is investigating over allegations of taking bribes from the Akashas.

A local judicial source said those under investigation are the “most culpable” protectors of the Akashas.

Following the revelations, lawyer Cliff Ombeta, who represented the Akasha brothers, has denied receiving bribes from his clients and that he was unaware of any investigations being conducted by the US Department of Justice.

Mr Ombeta said: “I have not been summoned by [either] the DCI or the FBI. The DPP is reading mischief in the investigations being conducted by the FBI,” adding that the US authorities broke the law by illegally extraditing his clients to the US to face charges relating to drug trafficking.

He said they broke the law first by interfering with an extradition process.

He said the US Department of Justice has no mandate to investigate or extradite Kenyan citizens who have not been implicated and tried in their country of origin for any crime relating to drug trafficking.

He said he blames this on the DPP and police who, he added, have completely surrendered the sovereignty of the country to the Americans.

The extradition trial of the Akashas was marked by dramatic twists and turns, with prosecutors and defence lawyers engaged in counter-applications. There is nothing so far, however, to suggest that any of the judicial officers involved in the proceedings acted inappropriately in executing their duties.

The sons of slain drug baron Ibrahim Akasha and two foreigners were first presented to court on November 10, 2014, when the State initiated proceedings to formally extradite them.

They appeared before then Mombasa chief magistrate Maxwell Gicheru, who on November 13, 2014 allowed an application by the Director of Public Prosecutions seeking to detain the suspects for 17 days as the State prepared to formally extradite them.

Mr Gicheru issued a provisional warrant of arrest against Baktash Akasha Abdalla, Vijaygiri Anandgiri, Ibrahim Akasha Abdalla and Gulam Hussein to face charges of conspiracy to import narcotics.

Senior Assistant DPP Alexander Muteti told the court that they were satisfied that there were sufficient grounds to seek provisional warrants pending the receipt of original warrants from the US government.

The application was opposed by Mr Ombeta, who was representing the four suspects.

On November 19, 2014, the Akashas made an application to be released on bond, citing, among other grounds, their health. The application was opposed by Mr Muteti.

On December 1, 2014, Mr Gicheru granted the Akashas and Gulam and Anandgiri a Sh5 million bond each with two Kenyan sureties of the same amount pending the extradition proceedings against them.

Following the granting of bail, the DPP moved to court on the same day for a review of the lower court decision before High Court Judge Edward Muriithi of the Constitutional Court. The judge granted a limited stay (suspension) of the orders.

After the suspension of their release, the review proceedings went before Justice Maureen Odero of the criminal division of the High Court, who heard the application by the DPP.

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