Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Noordin Haji has withdrawn charges against 11 suspects in the Sh468 million National Youth Service (NYS) fraud case.
In the decision on Monday, which saw the suspects discharged by a court, Mr Haji did not give reasons but noted his right to discontinue charges at any stage before the judgment.
The DPP filed the application to terminate the charges through State prosecutor Riungu Gitonga, noting that his decision was in line with Article 157(6)(c) of the constitution.
Through principal prosecutor Verah Amisi, he also cited Section 87 (a) of the Criminal Procedure Code
The accused persons did not oppose the withdrawal of the charges and Principal Magistrate Peter Ooko ordered that their cash bail and sureties be returned to them.
They include former acting director general of the NYS, Sammy Michuki; former head of procurement at the Mechanical Transport Branch (MTB) at NYS, Rodgers Nzioka; Mr Simon Kanyi Kiiru, who also worked at MTB; Mr Stephen Riungu, a former Internal Auditor at the Treasury; Mr Josephat Njoroge, who also worked as an internal auditor at Treasury; and Lucas Otieno, an auditor.
Also freed were Timothy Kiplagat Rotich, Mr Charles Mulandi, Jackson Juma, Humphrey Odhiambo and Bernard Masika, all NYS staff.
The trail failed to start as expected on Monday because two accused persons were not in court.
Their lawyers informed the magistrate that although they were facing charges in other files, they were not aware of the day's trial.
One of the lawyers who represented the 11 said they will sue the State for defamation as “from the beginning, defence lawyers said the DPP hurried to arrest the suspects and produce them in court without evidence to support the charges".
Through Mr Danstan Omari, the freed persons claimed on Monday that Mr Haji had them arrested and charged without proof.
Mr Omari told reporters that his clients were portrayed as criminals, denied bond, kept in custody and relieved of their duties.
“Some of them cannot pay school fees for their children as they have no earning following their arraignment,” he said.
He added, "The accused raised cash bails of up to Sh1 million as directed by the court so some have been condemned to poverty.”
The lawyer further said that all the suspects in the case will be released since the DPP has no evidence.
“Where is the water tight case now? Every time the case comes up for hearing they withdraw charges," he said, noting the defence team had been ready since September 2018.
“It was a disaster on the part of the DPP to arrest and produce the suspects in court without any evidence. The former civil servants have been embarrassed and taken by right-thinking members of the society as criminals yet there was no need to arrest them in the first instance.”
Mr Michuki's lawyer Kibiru Njenga said, “His 10 cases have all been withdrawn. We have no objection."
The trial of the other suspects will commence on Tuesday.