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I’ll jealously guard judicial independence, says Haji

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Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji has pledged to defend the independence of the Judiciary months after charging a top judge.

In an interview with the Star, Haji described the Kenyan bench as “very able” and expressed optimism that his office will get a fair hearing from the judges.

“One thing that I would like to assure you is that I will jealously guard the independence of the Judiciary,” Haji said.

“That is one of the reasons I decided to charge the DCJ because it was one situation that was bringing disrepute to the Judiciary and could not be left that way.”

In August, the DPP ordered for the arrest and prosecution of Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu.

The DCJ was arraigned for alleged abuse of office, tax evasion and forgery involving millions of shillings.

The move triggered a political storm, with some alleging it was part of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s strategy to destroy Supreme Court judges, who nullified his August 2017 poll victory. But Haji disagrees.

He said Mwilu’s conduct was bringing the Judiciary into disrepute and the decision to prosecute her was meant to safeguard the independence of the bench.

The DPP says his relationship with the Judiciary remains intact despite the Mwilu case.

“I’ve said this before, the majority of the judges are very able and impartial. It’s only a few rotten eggs like in any other organisation that have spoilt or are likely to spoil the image of the Judiciary,” he said.

Read: Expect a roller coaster ride in coming year, DPP tells graft lords

Some judges have adversely been mentioned by the Akasha family in connection with drug trafficking.

The DPP has pledged a tougher new year for graft suspects and is looking upon the Judiciary as a strong ally in the justice process.

“I have trust in the Judiciary. I think it’s a very able one and I’m hopeful that we will be given free and fair audience in whatever case that we present,” he said.

For the first time, the DPP confessed that the decision to arrest and charge Mwilu was difficult but had to be done in the interest of justice.

“We looked at the pros and cons. If I was to sit on the file for another two years and wait for an opportune time, the argument would still be the same, that this is about revisiting,” he said, referring to claims Mwilu was being punished for nullifying Uhuru’s election victory.

Haji said Mwilu’s case could not be handled by the Judicial Service Commission because it’s a criminal offence, not a gross misconduct.

Mwilu’s backers, including her lawyers, had argued that the case be left to the JSC as was the case with former DCJ Nancy Barasa.

Barasa was kicked out of the Judiciary for pinching the nose of a guard at the Village Market in Nairobi.

Also Read: [VIDEO] My 7-hour ordeal in Westgate terror attack- Noordin Haji

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