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Judge saves Okemo from extradition to face money laundering charges



Former Finance Minister Chris Okemo is finally free after fighting for a decade to stop his extradition to the United Kingdom to face charges of theft and money laundering.

Nairobi Chief Magistrate Roseline Oganyo Wednesday ruled that the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) did not provide sufficient evidence to warrant Okemo’s extradition, saving the corrupt politician the pain of traveling thousands of kilometres from home to face justice.

“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,” Ms Oganyo ruled.

But the magistrate only terminated the extradition proceedings against Okemo and not his co-accused, former Kenya Power boss Mr. Samuel Gichuru, whose trial was suspended because he is sick and can not attend the case.

Ms Ongayo accused the DPP of bungling the case by failing to call up witnesses to produce evidence to support it. She ruled that Okemo has suffered so much in the past ten years because of the uncertainty over his extradition and it would be unfair to send him abroad without producing 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.

The magistrate’s decision is a big relief to the former finance minister who has been having the extradition case hanging over his head since April 2011, when the Attorney General for Jersey Island, Mr. Timothy Le Cocq, asked for their extradition to face charges of money laundering.

Chris Okemo and Samuel Gichuru [p/courtesy]

Their request for extradition was followed by a red alert notice issued by Interpol on Okemo and Gichuru.

The duo defrauded Sh450 million from Kenya Power and Lighting Company between 1998 and 2002 and hid the proceeds in offshore accounts in the UK.

They were facing a jail term of up to 14 years each in the UK after they got closer to being extradited to the Jersey Islands over theft and money laundering charges.

The Supreme Court gave the DPP green light to proceed with the extradition proceedings which stalled at a magistrate court ten years ago after they were opposed by Attorney General’s office.

Okemo and Gichuru were wanted by the Royal Court of Jersey for pocketing bribes from foreign businesses that won tenders at Kenya Power with the proceeds wired to the Jersey Island.

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