By Sheila Mutua and Lennox Sengre
Represented by a team of four high-powered lawyers, Sirisia MP John Waluke and his co-accused Grace Wakhungu are hoping that their legal talent will spare them from jail.
Waluke is being represented by advocates Evans Ondieki, Samson Nyamberi, Cliff Ombeta and Dunstan Omari while Wakhungu has Duncan Okubasu in her corner.
Assistant Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions Alexander Muteti, Gitonga Riungu, and Mercy Gateru are representing the state in the matter.
Speaking on behalf of the first accused, Wakhungu’s lawyer pleaded with the court to protect her dignity and to give her an opportunity to reform through a non-custodial sentence.
A non-custodial sentence is a punishment given by a court of law that does not involve a prison term, such as a fine or a restriction order.
In his plea to spare Wakhungu a mandatory sentence, Okubaso cited Justice John Mativo in a case where the judge ruled that sentencing an old person to a mandatory sentence is subjecting them to slow death.
Wakhungu, who is 79 years old, was convicted of five counts, including uttering a false document and perjury.
The lawyer told the court that Wakhungu is remorseful and deeply regrets that she tendered the supply of 40,000 metric tonnes of maize.
On the first count of uttering a false document that carries a mandatory sentence of seven years, the lawyer asked the court to impose a fine not exceeding Ksh100,000.
In mitigation on behalf of the second accused, Waluke, the counsel Samson Nyamberi persuaded the court that the MP is a family man who has served his country in the Kenya Defence Forces.
The advocate told the Anti-Corruption Chief Magistrate Elizabeth Juma that the 59-year-old MP has a big family that depends on him and that he had never before found himself on the wrong side of the law.
Waluke, the counsel said, has two wives, six children ranging in age from 39 to four-years-old and is also a grandfather of four minors.
The lawyer told the court that his 70-plus family members look up to him for support.
Waluke, his lawyer said, was a career civil servant who had an impressive track record in the military where he rose from a corporal to a major in 1996, a testimony that he is a good person.
After his military career, he engaged in consultancy and road construction services in Western Kenya. He holds a degree from Mount Kenya University and a Masters from Kibabii University.
Waluke’s lawyers begged the court not to be swayed by the Sh297 million but by the amount that was in his possession.
The lawyers, just as in Wakhungu’s case, requested the Chief Magistrate to give him a non-custodial sentence.
Ombeta told the court that when the matter came to light in 2009, Waluke was not a Member of Parliament but just a mere businessman.
The MP’s other lawyer, Omari, pleaded with the Chief Magistrate to be lenient with the former KDF soldiers, saying that he is not only a vulnerable person because of coronavirus but that he also saved the late president Daniel arap Moi in the 1982 coup.