15 January 2013

Kenya: Two More Judges Unfit, Others Cleared

Photo: Quotidien Mutations
Symbol of justice.

Nairobi — Two more judges have been declared unfit to continue serving in the Judiciary as the vetting board concludes scrutiny of members of the bench.

Judges Muga Apondi and Abida Ali Aroni were declared unsuitable on Tuesday afternoon by the Judges and Magistrates Vetting Board (JMBV).

"After considerable reflection, the board decided by a clear majority that the negative factors were sufficiently weighty to indicate that judge Apondi was not suitable to continue in office," JMVB chairman Sharad Rao said.

The board found Apondi to be insensitive and unprofessional in a murder case contrary to procedural judicial practice.

He also allegedly summoned the complaining counsel before him in court, "after giving her (the complainant) a severe public dressing down."

According to Rao, Apondi also failed to answer questions asked by the JMBV satisfactorily and also to understand the frustrations of the lady.

"After the fracas with the complainant, the judge had disqualified himself from the criminal trial. Another judge had taken over the matter and eventually after nearly 10 years if incarceration, the accused been found not guilty," Rao explained.

He continued, "When asked whether he felt shocked by the fact that accused people could be held in jail for a decade and then found not guilty, instead of immediately expressing outrage, or at least dismay, his immediate response had been to explain various factors that had led to such long delay."

He was further put on the spot for his alleged involvement in acquiring a portion of land in the judicial compound in Nyeri during his service in the area.

Judge Aroni allegedly failed to make money available to a complainant whom they were in partnership with in 1993.

The complainant told the board that Aroni even threatened her when she asked her to give her Sh585,112 she owed her.

"The complainant states that her every effort to recover what was due to her from the judge, met with militancy and subtle threats. That the judge became evasive and at some point would refuse to see her to discuss the issue," Rao explained as he referred to a nasty letter sent by the judge to the Complaints Commission.

The board however, cleared Justices Roselyn Nambuye and Mohammed Ibrahim who had appealed against the board's decision last year in which it had declared them unfit.

Mary Kasango was also cleared to continue serving in the judiciary.

A total of 53 judges were vetted and 40 of them cleared while 13 were declared unsuitable.

The board will next start vetting the 109 magistrates.

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