5 February 2013

Kenya: Okemo, Gichuru Fail to Block Extradition

A court has today directed that the extradition of former Nambale MP Chris Okemo and former Kenya Power and Lighting Manager Samuel Gichuru can go on.

A court in Jersey on April 20, 2011 had issued a warrant of arrest for the two who the Chief Justice of the Island of Jersey accused of defrauding KPlC and laundering proceeds in the UK. The two were to appear before the court on May 5, 2011 but failed to do so.

The two had gone to court to block their extradition and also challenged the jurisdiction of the court to extradite them. The accused had further claimed that owing to the publicity the case had generated, they feared they would not have a fair trial in Jersey. They instead applied to have the cases referred to the High Court.

However, City Hall Chief Magistrate Teresia Muregi declined to block the Jersey court from extraditing Okemo and Gichuru on grounds that no incidents of mistreatment as claimed by the two had been presented before her.

Additionally, Muregi said that the issue of jurisdiction will be addressed in the Jersey court once the accused are arraigned. The 53 charges that the two are being accused of relate to commissions paid by international companies, mostly between 1999 and 2002, totalling 4,459,572 pounds sterling, 786,853 Danish kroner and 3,207,360 US dollars (Sh902 million in total). All the charges relate to Gichuru but not all mention Okemo

Gichuru was managing director of KPLC between 1983 and 2003 when it was partially privatised, while Okemo was Energy minister from 1999 to 2001 and then Finance minister from 2001 to 2003 when the alleged defrauding and embezzlement took place.

Muregi also ruled that the Director of Public Prosecutions Keriako Tobiko can initiate the extradition. Following the ruling, the two will be expected to appear before the Jersey court to answer to the charges.

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