DPP loses move to extradite Okemo to UK

Former energy and finance cabinet minister Chris Okemo. PHOTO | POOL

Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Noordin Haji has lost a bid to extradite former Finance and Energy Cabinet Minister Chris Okemo to the United Kingdom for trial over alleged corruption and theft of Sh1.5 billion 23 years ago.

City court Chief Magistrate Roseline Oganyo yesterday discharged Mr Okemo from the extradition process after the DPP failed to adduce either oral or documentary evidence to demonstrate why the former minister should be taken to Britain to face criminal charges in the Island of Jersey.

The magistrate’s ruling was triggered by the DPP’s decision dated September 20, 2022, to close the case without calling witnesses.

At the time of closing the case, the magistrate stated, Prosecutor Alexander Muteti (senior assistant DPP) said the DPP had decided not to call five witnesses that he had planned to invite to testify against Mr Okemo, who was wanted in Jersey alongside former managing director of Kenya Power & Lighting Company (KPLC) Samuel Gichuru.

The latter’s extradition case was suspended due because he is ill.

They were accused of accepting bribes from foreign companies that were doing business with Kenya Power & Lighting Company (KPLC) between the years 1999 and 2001.

The intended witnesses were from the Island of Jersey. They were to give their testimonies virtually via video link from September 20 to 22, 2022 and were also to rely on documentary evidence.

“(But) when the case was called for hearing on September 20, the prosecutor said he won’t call the five witnesses and will rely on the documentary evidence,” said magistrate Oganyo.

“He submitted 14 bundles of documents in court as evidence. He would have called the witnesses to produce the documents. So no documentary evidence has been tendered in accordance with the evidential rules. The move by Mr Muteti caught the court and counsels by surprise,” she added.

In her ruling, she also blocked the prosecutor from reopening the case and calling the five witnesses to testify orally.

“To accede to the DPP’s request will be unfair to Mr Okemo in view of the age of the matter. The DPP must be held to his decision as he did on September 20 to close the case without evidence or witnesses. So no evidence has been adduced to warrant the court to allow the extradition,” said the magistrate.

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