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Accused forced to take plea in burial plot case

Wednesday May 12 2010

By JILLO KADIDA

An attempt by one of the accused in a Sh283 million cemetery land case to refuse to take a plea was thwarted after he was forced to do so.

On Wednesday, Anti-Corruption Court magistrate Cecilia Githua rejected an explanation given by Mr Joseph Owino Kojwando that there was an order by High Court judge Joyce Khaminwa barring his prosecution in relation to the saga.

Mr Kojwando refused to answer to the charges in the morning, prompting the magistrate to give a ruling.

Access to property

She noted that the order did not stop her from performing her duties as a magistrate, nor did it stop the prosecution of Mr Kojwando, before directing him to take plea.

Mr Kojwando sought the High Court order after the State got an order giving it access to his property for the purpose of investigations.

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He was charged together with suspended Local Government permanent secretary Sammy Kirui and 12 others on April 29, but only his lawyer was in court because he was said to be out of town.

Mr Kojwando denied charges of conspiring to defraud the public by acquiring Sh283 million from the Local Government ministry, claiming it was the purchase price for cemetery land.

He also denied fraudulently acquiring Sh10 million from the City Council of Nairobi on or about February 23, 2009. He was freed on a Sh2.5 million cash bail.

In a related case, the Attorney General has been given 14 days to respond to a case filed by the city mayor, Mr Geoffrey Majiwa seeking to halt his case over the cemetery land saga.

Apprehensive that the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission might come for him, Mr Majiwa rushed to court challenging a preliminary report by KACC, which implicated a number of people.

He wants the report quashed together with its recommendation for prosecution against those implicated in the scandal. The case will be heard on July 26.