The Supreme Court has set aside a decision of the Court of Appeal that saw former senior government officials Chris Okemo and Samuel Gichuru off the hook and barred their extradition to the Island of Jersey to face corruption and money laundering charges.
Justice Jackton Ojwang ordered a “stay of execution, enforcement or any other steps or actions intended to implement the pronouncement and orders of the Court of appeal…”pending the hearing and determination of an appeal lodged at the SC by the DPP.
The DPP says the judgement of the Court of Appeal was “wrong and an affront on the administration of justice.”
An affidavit filed through senior assistant DPP, Victor Mule,states that the judgement may set a precedence as it “shall have serious ramifications on the administration of justice through Kenya owing to the extradition proceedings pending in various courts.”
The anti-climax now mars the Appeal Court ruling that had seen the duo go Scot-free and had seemed to end a seven-year court tussle to avoid prosecution in the UK.
Arrest warrants were issued against Okemo and Gichuru in April 2011.
Okemo, a former Cabinet minister and Gichuru, a former KPLC boss, have since 2011 been challenging the DPP’s powers to extradite them to to the UK.
Last year, Jersey and Kenya signed an agreement for return of more than KSh380 million assets allegedly recovered from them.
In 2015 High Court in 2015 gave the extradition process the green light following a decision by a magistrate’s court in 2013 that okayed their handover to the Jersey authorities.
But Appeal Court judges Erastus Githinji, Hanna Okwengu and Jamila Mohammed set aside the decisions.
The Supreme Court has certified the matter as of utmost urgency and will be heard on priority basis.
“The applicant was dissatisfied with the decision and has directed that an appeal be filed….” Mule’s affidavit reads.
Criminal justice system
In the Court of appeal judgement it was ordered that extradition is not part of Kenya’s criminal justice system.
It was also stated that the process of extradition is not part of the system of administration of criminal justice.
The judges also had said that the constitution nor the ODPP ACT confers on the DPP the responsibility to conduct extradition proceedings or foreign relations on behalf of Kenya.
They had struck out the committal proceedings and declared them invalid. “The authority to proceed issued by the DPP on July 6, 2011, is a nullity together with the committal proceedings,” ruled the judges.
The DPP wanted the two sent Jersey to face 53 charges relating to commissions paid by international companies, mostly between 1999 and 2002. The amounts in question are 4,459,572 Pounds Sterling, 786,853 Danish Kroner and $3,207,360 (Sh902 million total).