The trial in the Sh39.5 billion military arms deal case against former Sports Cabinet Secretary Rashid Echesa went on in camera after three senior military officers were lined up to testify with sensitive and crucial evidence on Thursday.
This followed an application by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) through prosecuting counsel Kennedy Panyako, after which senior principal magistrate Kennedy Cheruiyot ordered members of the press and public to leave the courtroom.
"Owing to the sensitivity of the testimony from the senior military officers, members of the press and public are hereby ordered to leave court as long as the crucial evidence is being led," Mr Cheruiyot ordered.
He also gave the directive after the DPP dropped another application to avail fresh additional testimony against Mr Echesa and four others.
The court was ready to receive arguments when Mr Panyako abandoned the same, saying: "After consulting with, authorities I was advised not to pursue the issue further."
He then asked to present the sensitive and crucial evidence in camera.
"Only the accused persons, the lawyers, police officers who are court orderlies, the court clerk and defence lawyers should remain in court," Mr Panyako pleaded.
In a short ruling, Mr Cheruiyot said the plea by the DPP is merited then ordered the media and public to stay away until the military chiefs conclude their testimony.
The fraud charges
Mr Echesa is charged alongside Daniel Otieno Omondi alias General Juma, Clifford Okoth Onyango alias Paul, Kennedy Oyoo Mboya, Chrispin Oduor Odipo and Pzels Company Limited. They have denied conspiring to commit a felony contrary to Section 393 of the Penal Code.
According to the charge sheet, the accused persons jointly made documents named as End Use Certificate, Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) and Notification of award for restricted classified tender number HC2019/2026 letter from the Ministry of Defence.
The five have denied obtaining Sh11,500,000 through pretences from Kozlowski Stanley Bruno, claiming they would be awarded a tender for the supply and delivery of military equipment to the Ministry of Defence, a fact they knew to be false.
The alleged offence was committed at Plaza 2000 along Mombasa Road on October 21, 2019.
On October 22, 2019, the five are accused of making a notification award for restricted classified tender number HC2019/2026 letter to the managing director of Howells Investments SP Z.O.O Aleja Niepodlegloski 02-626 Warszawa, Poland from the Ministry of Defence (MoD) purporting the correspondence was genuine, authored and signed RM Gicia for Principal Secretary State Department of Defence.
They are also accused of forging another letter to the managing director of Eco Advanced Technologies UC, alleging that it emanated from the Ministry of Defence and was signed by RM Gicia for tender number HC2019/2026.
They have also denied conspiring to obtain over Sh39.5 billion to pretending they would ensure he is offered the tender to supply an array of military equipment.
Two white men
The court was told that Mr Echesa took two white men to the office of Deputy President William Ruto on February 13, 2020. The two white men had a bag when they visited the office.
Security detail at the DP's office took away the bag and mobile phones belonging to the white men before ushering them into a waiting room.
Mr Echesa told the DP's guards that "he had an appointment to see Dr Ruto together with the two white men, whose names he did not give."
Dr Ruto's a bodyguard, Mr Nicholas Maiyo Burkey, testified that he ushered in Mr Echesa and the two men into the office of Dr Ruto. He then called the DP's Karen office to find out whether he would meet Mr Echesa in town or in Karen. However, he was informed that Dr Ruto was heading to Kandara, Murang'a County, for a burial.
"I informed Echesa that Ruto was heading to Kandara. Echesa and the two white men left the town office," said Mr Maiyo.
Witnesses said they did not see any money changing hands at the office of the DP.