The trial of 32 people charged with the loss of Sh60.5 million at the National Youth Service was adjourned Tuesday to allow the accused persons and their lawyers to prepare adequately for the hearing.
Arguing before Principal Magistrate Peter Ooko, the lawyers said the charges, which were amended by the prosecution, introduced new details and timelines on the dates the offences were allegedly committed.
Mr Stephen Ligunya, who represents former PS Lillian Omollo, said the new charge sheet introduced additional charges against her, which changes the approach of the case. He said he needed to seek instructions from Ms Omollo especially because of the voluminous documents he has to go through.
The sentiments were supported by advocates Kiraithe Wandugi, Migos Ogamba and Assa Nyakundi, among others.
Although the prosecution opposed the application, Mr Ooko agreed to adjourn the case until Monday to allow the defence lawyers to look at the documents.
The magistrate warned the prosecution against introducing any documents unless with the permission of the court.
The magistrate noted that the prosecution had admitted that the consolidated charge sheet was furnished to the accused persons on Monday, and that some of them pleaded to the charges Tuesday. “In the interest of justice, I am inclined to grant the defence three days to prepare for the trial,” he said. At the same time, Mr Samuel Otieno, who was yet to be arrested since other suspects were arraigned in May, was brought to court yesterday. Prosecutor Verah Amisi told the court that Mr Otieno was picked from his office on Monday evening, adding that his mobile phone has been off for several months.
But through his lawyer David Oyata, Mr Otieno said he has never been informed of the charges and that he is a civil servant working with the Ministry of Trade. The lawyer said Mr Otieno has been on the run and asked the court to reject the application to impose stringent bond terms against him.
In the ruling, Mr Ooko directed Mr Otieno to deposit the bond terms imposed on other accused persons.
Among the persons facing the charges are Ms Omollo, former NYS Director-General Richard Ndubai, former senior deputy director Nicholas Ahere, former acting finance Willington Lubira and former chief accountant Clement Murage, among others.
On Monday, DPP Noordin Haji said he had withdrawn charges against 11 accused persons after reviewing their cases and finding that they are more "suitable as prosecution witnesses".