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Luka Kimaru: The judge on the spotlight over Miguna case

Wednesday February 7 2018

Justice Luka Kimaru

Justice Luka Kimaru at Milimani courthouse on February 6, 2018 where Nasa activist Miguna Miguna was supposed to be produced following his arrest last Friday. PHOTO | EVANS HABIL | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

SAM KIPLAGAT
By SAM KIPLAGAT
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Justice Luka Kiprotich Kimaru has recently been in the spotlight after the arrest of Nasa activist Miguna Miguna following the January 30 “swearing-in” of opposition leader Raila Odinga.

His name has been in the news following his orders that Mr Miguna be produced in court and after the orders were not heeded, he summoned the Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet and the DCI boss George Kinoti.

The summons were also ignored.

Justice Kimaru was appointed a judge of the High Court in December 2003, then aged 36 years. His first posting was in Nairobi at the Criminal Division before he was moved to Nakuru.

CASE BACKLOGS

In Nakuru, together with the then presiding Judge Muga Apondi and Justice Daniel Musinga (now Court of Appeal judge), they managed to reduce case backlogs at the station in record time.

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The Chief Justice then transferred him to Mombasa but the Rift Valley Law Society protested and he remained there before he was moved back to Nairobi where he served at the Commercial Division. He also served at the Head of the Family Division for four years.

ELECTION PETITIONS

After the 2007 General Election, Justice Kimaru heard four election petitions including one filed by Mr John Kiarie of ODM against Mrs Beth Mugo, a case he dismissed.

He also heard a petition filed by former William Kabogo against the election of Juja MP George Thuo, which he nullified and a petition by Mohamud Muhumed Sirat against Ali Hassan Abdirahman.

But during the hearing of the petition, the defendants questioned Mr Sirat’s move to challenge the election arguing that he was not a Kenya. They argued that Mr Sirat had denounced his citizenship but in his ruling delivered on January 22, 2010, Justice Kimaru ruled that the documents relied on to question Mr Sirat’s citizenship did not stand up to legal scrutiny.

He said Mr Sirat was a Kenya citizen and a holder of a valid national identity card and passport which an election court could not invalidate, adding that the legislator had not renounced his citizenship.

CRIMINAL DIVISION

The judge is currently serving at the Criminal Division of the High Court for the last three-and-a-half years and is also the chairman of the Community Service Order, which aims at reducing the number of people in prisons and remand homes as well as advocating for non-custodial sentences.

Justice Kimaru is also a member of the committee on election preparedness, which trained judges and magistrates in readiness for the 2013 General Election.

They recommended a number of changes, including the increase of the number of days within which a presidential election petition could be heard and determined.

The committee told Parliament that the 14 days within which the petition should be heard and determined was too short and 30 days would be sufficient.

However, Parliament rejected the proposal and retained 14 days.

The committee also recommended that election petitions for MPs and governors can only be appealed once, thus terminate at the Court of Appeal while those of MCAs should end at the High Court. Some petitions arising from the 2013 General Election went all the way to the Supreme Court.

Lawyers know him as no-nonsense judge and a stickler to the rule of law.

PRAISE AND FLAK

Justice Kimaru has received both flak and praise in equal measure over his handling of a case filed by Nasa lawyers involving the arrest and holding of Mr Miguna in police cells.

Following his release orders which were seemingly ignored, the judge Tuesday assured agitated lawyers and Nasa supporters that he would stay in court until Mr Miguna was produced.

He went ahead to terminate all the charges brought against Mr Miguna.

But there was an unexpected turn events later Tuesday evening after it emerged that Mr Miguna had been “deported” out of Kenya to Canada via a KLM flight.