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Diplomat Ruth Kitony asks DPP to review graft charges

Monday November 18 2019

Anti-Corruption Court Chief Magistrate Lawrence Mugambi

Anti-Corruption Court Chief Magistrate Lawrence Mugambi, who on November 3, 2019 ordered the arrest of diplomat Ruth Kitony over embezzlement of Sh48.9 million from the Kasarani Constituency Development Fund. PHOTO | PAUL WAWERU | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

RICHARD MUNGUTI
By RICHARD MUNGUTI
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A diplomat charged over embezzlement of Sh48.9 million from the Kasarani Constituency Development Fund (CDF) has asked the DPP to review his decision to file the corruption case.

Ms Ruth Kanini Kitony, Kenya’s ambassador to Malaysia, has written to Director of Public Prosecution Noordin Haji urging him to review the decision to charge her.

Ms Kitony formerly served as a district development officer employed by the CDF board.

She is charged alongside former Kasarani member of Parliament Elizabeth Ongoro.

BIAS CLAIM

At the Nairobi Anti-Corruption Court on Monday, a prosecutor urged Chief Magistrate Lawrence Mugambi to give him seven days to communicate the DPP's decision on Ms Kitony's request.

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However, the other accused persons in the case, who number more than 20, complained that Ms Kitony was being favoured and that they were facing discrimination.

Defence lawyers Dunstan Omari and George Wajackoyah questioned the DPP’s exercise of powers in deciding to prosecute the 22 people charged in the case that concerns construction of Kasarani Girls' High School between May 9, 2008 and December 10, 2012. The school does not exist.

“The DPP is applying double standards in arresting some of the accused persons and arraigning them the next day without giving them an opportunity to write to him to review their cases," Mr Omari said.

He wondered which documents the diplomat's lawyer relied on in asking the DPP for the review given that no witness statements and exhibits have been handed over to the accused for preparation of defences.

The defence lawyers alleged discrimination, noting that once a suspect is taken to court, he or she becomes the "property oft he court" so the DPP can only exercise his prosecutorial mandate.

However, Mr Mugambi granted the DPP the seven days to communicate his decision about Ms Kitony's case.

The magistrate noted that the decision would not be final as the court would still render its verdict.

THE CHARGES

Mr Mugambi had ordered Ms Kitony to appear in court to answer to two charges - conspiracy to commit corruption and abuse of office.

She is accused of improperly conferring a benefit of Sh1,033,000 to Jecinta Akoth Opondi and Maurice Odhiambo Orongo, trading as Kamala Construction, for the supply of building materials for the school project. The materials were never supplied.

Ms Kitony, Ms Ongoro, her husband Ferdinand Masha Kenga and 18 others have denied a joint charge of embezzling that amount of money from the CDF.

They denied 25 charges and were granted bonds of between Sh1.5 million and Sh3 million. Ms Kitony was granted a personal bond of Sh3 million.

Ms Akoth will be treated at the Kenyatta National Hospital as she was seriously wounded while boarding the prison van for transportation court.

The case will be mentioned on November 26.