Graft charges against David Mwiraria to be dropped

Friday April 14 2017

Former Finance minister David Mwiraria.

Former Finance minister David Mwiraria. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By ABIUD OCHIENG
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Graft charges against former Finance minister David Mwiraria, who died on Thursday, will be dropped.

Under the law, a deceased person cannot be tried and the prosecution may be forced to amend the charge sheet to exclude his name, in the case where he had been charged alongside others.

But legal experts say Mr Mwiraria's death may undermine prosecutors' case in the ongoing trial of suspects linked to the controversial Sh10 billion Anglo Leasing scandal.

Lawyer Apollo Mboya says that when one suspect is missing in a case where prosecutors had alleged a conspiracy among several people, the case becomes extremely complicated.

“If a co-accused says that it is the missing or deceased person who did something, and that person is not there to defend himself or herself, then that case becomes very weak,” Mr Mboya said.

Mr Mwiraria made several unsuccessful attempts to get the charges against him dropped.

FACE TRIAL

The former minister had, through lawyer Kioko Kilukumi, requested the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to drop the charges against him on the grounds that he was terminally ill and could not be tried.

The DPP’s counsel rejected the request, arguing that no evidence had been given to prove his health condition had worsened.

After all attempts to free him from prosecution had failed, Mr Mwiraria finally pleaded not guilty to the charges related to the Anglo Leasing scandal.

Mr Mwiraria took plea from his hospital bed in December 2015 and was released on a Sh2 million bond.

ECONOMIC CRIMES

Mr Mwiraria fell sick and was hospitalised on March 18, 2015, the same date that his co-accused were taking their pleas in a Nairobi court.

The former minister faced four counts of economic crimes and conspiracy to defraud the government.

He resigned from his position as Finance minister in 2006 after being implicated in the famous "Githongo Report" by then President Mwai Kibaki’s adviser John Githongo.

Mr Mwiraria, two former permanent secretaries and businessmen Deepak Kamani and Rashmi Kamani were charged with conspiracy to defraud the government.

All the accused denied the alleged fraud concerning the multibillion-shilling contract that the government later cancelled without notice.

The businessmen are accused of fraudulent acquisition of public property in connection with alleged payments made to a foreign firm.

The hearing of the case against the other accused resumes on June 5.