The Anti-Corruption Court has given the Director of Public Prosecution Noordin Haji the last chance to produce evidence in former Treasury Cabinet Secretary (CS) Henry Rotich case, two years after the minister was charged over multibillion-shilling Kimwarer and Arror dams’ scandal.
On Monday, February 15, when the accused persons appeared before Nairobi Chief Magistrate Douglas Ogoti for the pretrial conference, it emerged that the DPP was not ready as he sought two more weeks to supply all the evidence documents, including witness statements of former Treasury Principal Secretary (PS) Kamau Thugge and ex-Wildlife PS Susan Koech who have since been made state witnesses.
“We will not be ready to proceed as the DPP seeks two weeks to file an amended charge sheet and complete full disclosure in the case. We also seek adjournment since the two lead state prosecutors Alexander Muteti and Ali Taib, who had gone to condole with their boss Noordin Haji for the loss of his father,Garissa Senator Yusuf Haji, this morning,” said the prosecutor.
But the defense lawyers, led by Kioko Kilukumi and Katwa Kigen, protested the application to have the case adjourned, saying that the move by the DPP is an abuse of the court process and the accused person’s right to a fair hearing.
“It is an abuse of the court process for the DPP to bring the accused person for the last two years without being ready to prosecute. The accused are tired of coming to court and the case is adjourned with the prosecution, saying that they are taking instructions from Haji and looking for the 18 Italians who are still at large,” said Kigen.
The lawyer said that his client Rotich was charged in July 2019 and it’s unfair that disclosure of all evidence to be relied upon by the prosecution had not been supplied.
This prompted the trial magistrate to give the office of the DPP and Directorate of Criminal Investigations, through his officer Thomas Tanui, a last adjournment for lack of supplying evidence and exhibits to Rotich and his co-accused persons.
Ogoti allowed the adjournment and sent his condolences to the DPP.
“Upon hearing the DPP and defence in this matter, the court notes delay in this matter for failure by the prosecution to avail evidence and exhibits to the accused persons. I will not allow an adjournment in this matter anymore for non-disclosure,” ruled Ogoti.
The magistrate, however, hesitantly allowed the adjournment and sent his condolences to the DPP.
At the same time, Ogoti gave the DPP more time to produce 18 Italians charged alongside Rotich over the Kimwarer dam scandal.
The 18 Italians are the directors of the companies that were awarded the multi-billion of the construction of the two dams.
On July 23, 2019, Rotich was accused of flouting procurement procedures in awarding a contract worth billions of shillings for the construction of the two dams to Italian firm, CMC de Ravenna.
They were accused of taking part in fraud in the planned construction of two multi-purpose dams projects in Kimwarer and Arror, Elgeyo Marakwet, estimated at Sh63 billion.
The suspects were charged with conspiracy to defraud, failure to comply with applicable procurement laws, engaging in a project without prior planning and abuse of office among other economic crimes.
The matter will be mentioned on March 19 to confirm whether the prosecution has supplied documents to accused and whether they have arrested the 18 Italians.