21 February 2013

Kenya: I Am Ready to Die, Says Mutunga

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission chairman, Issack Hassan has addressed the alleged threats to the chief justice including the ... ( Resource: Kenya's Electoral Body Addresses Alleged Threats to Judiciary )

CHIEF Justice Willy Mutunga yesterday revealed he had received death threats but would not be intimidated.

"I have given most of my life to a better Kenya and if taking it is what will be required to consolidate and secure our democratic gains in this election, or even thereafter, that is a price I am not afraid to pay," said justice Mutunga.

"Let no individual, group, candidate or supporter imagine that cowardly and darkly acts such as these will cow us. We have seen and overcome worse, and we will all soldier on for this country. None will be held hostage by a cabal of retrogrades," Mutunga said during a press conference at the Supreme Court Building.

He said he had received a threatening letter on Monday from the Mungiki Veterans Group/Kenya Sovereignty Defense Squad warning of dire consequences against him, judges and diplomats accredited to Kenya.

"The letter warns against an adversarial ruling on the presidential and deputy presidential candidacy of Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto. The letter extols the violent 'exploits' of the Mungiki Movement and threatens dire consequences," said Mutunga.

The letter dated February 13 was apparently written before last Friday's High Court ruling by five judges ruled that they did not have have the authority to decide on an eligibility case filed against Jubilee presidential candidate Uhuru Kenyatta and his running mate, William Ruto.

The judges said only the Supreme Court could decide on a presidential matter. The trials of Uhuru and Ruto are due to start at the ICC on April 10 and 11 on charges of crimes against humanity.

Uhuru and Ruto yesterday declared their confidence in Mutunga, and called for an investigation into the threats.

"The police should track the source of that letter and not only stop at prosecuting them but also force them to reveal who sent them," Ruto said while campaigning at the Eldama Ravine grounds.

"Mutunga should run the judiciary like he has been doing and continue to enact reforms. He should know that all Kenyans of goodwill are behind them," he said.

The letter was posted just before the CJ traveled to Dar es Salaam to give a lecture on Kenya's constitutional experience.

He was stopped by a junior Immigration officer at the Jomo Kenyatta International who attempted to block him from traveling because he had not got clearance from the Civil Service chief Francis Kimemia.

Mutunga said the harassment by the immigration officer was "political and deliberate" since the Chief Justice does not need to seek clearance from the head of civil service for his activities.

The CJ added, "It requires quite some courage, ignorance, or political patronage or a combination of all three for an immigration officer on his own motion to summon the confidence to stop a Chief Justice from traveling particularly in the face of non existent circular."

The CJ said he received a call in Dar-es-salaam from the director general of the National Intelligence Service, General Michael Gichangi, apologizing for "the small hiccup." Mutunga said he was also worried about recent separate attacks on five judges.

He said he had forwarded the threatening letter to Inspector General of Police David Kimaiyo and Director of Public Prosecution Keriako Tobiko for investigations.

"The political class must choose whether, either through direct pronouncements or suggestive behavior they want peaceful, democratic, fair elections free from rigging and intimidation or whether they want to put the country on a path of violence," said Mutunga.

"Whatever choice the political class and leadership makes they must remain aware that ultimately, the people of Kenya and rule of law will triumph. The judiciary is playing its part in protecting and upholding the constitution; let Kenyans also do their part."

"On any matter that will come before me or the Supreme Court, I and the court shall operate strictly within confines of the constitution. Intimidation and threats are uninvited guests and will not be hosted in the execution of our mandate," said Mutunga.

Last evening, Tobiko instructed Kimaiyo to immediately investigate into the death threats against the CJ. The DPP said the threats in the letter "amount to incitement to violence and a serious interference with and subversion of the administration of justice."

"Upon completion of the investigation, the report and findings thereon should be submitted to me for appropriate directions," said Tobiko in a statement.

In Makueni Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka also called for thorough investigations and said the the truth must be established. He said the CJ has done lot for judicial reforms and should be allowed to discharge his work without interference.

Yesterday the former vice chairman of the Parliamentary Service Commission, Adan Keynan, said the threats against Mutunga were "serious, an affront and blatant attack to the country's democracy.'

"Anything that attempts to intimidate, coerce, harass and prejudice the independence of judiciary is an affront to constitutionalism and must be resisted by all well meaning Kenyans," he said.

"The president must establish a commission of inquiry to investigate these serious claims by the CJ so that the real issues are made public to Kenyans. Those found culpable must be dealt with according to the law," Keynan said.

"Mutunga and all the judges should not be intimidated. They should continue with the good job and Kenyans are fully behind them," he said. The lobby group Rights Promotion and Protection Centre called for an investigation into the threats.

Copyright © 2013 The Star. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.

AllAfrica publishes around 2,000 reports a day from more than 130 news organizations and over 200 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.